Rory McIlroy produced a round of two halves in signing for a one-over par 73 on the opening day of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral in suburban Miami.
McIlroy failed to post a birdie in an outward half of 40 that included two bogeys and a ninth hole double when he found water with his second shot.
The four-time Major winner headed to his back nine having found four of seven fairways and also recording 17 putts.
In contrast, McIlroy played more like the World No. 1 over his homeward nine with an eagle on the eighth hole, where he fired a 220-yard second shot 22 feet left of the pin and putted out for an eagle ‘three’.
However he then found a greenside bunker at his last in taking bogey and while he also missed three fairways, McIlroy had only 10 putts.
If left McIlroy sharing 32nd place with fellow Irishman Graeme McDowell and with the duo trailing clubhouse leader Ryan Moore by seven shots.
“The eagle was really important but it was just another day where I didn’t get off to the greatest of starts,” said McIlroy.
“I just couldn’t really get anything going again. Still felt a little bit tentative out there on the front nine, and then being four-over after the turn, I was sort of like, there’s not much else to lose, go ahead and try and be aggressive.
“I then hit some better shots coming in so it was important to make some birdies on the way in and obviously that eagle helped, as well. Do a little bit of work this evening on the swing and then get at it tomorrow and hopefully get off to a better start.”
McDowell was headed straight for the practice range after posting a one over par 73 and a similar starting round a year ago.
McDowell, like McIlroy and competing again after missing the cut in the Honda Classic, did all the hard work to be one under par with four birdies and three bogeys through 17 holes, ahead of taking double at the last. McDowell was in a greenside bunker left of the green at the ninth or the 18th hole of his round but thinned his next shot into the water guarding the green.
“It’s a pity what happened there at the last but overall there was a lot of positives out there and there’s an eight under par for the taking out there today because it was scoreable and with the pins not too difficult to get at,” he said.
“So the scoring was much better than I expected and what pleased me most about my game was my putting.
“I hit some decent shots here and there while I controlled the ball well, at times but then I didn’t control it well, at times.
“So I’m heading to the range and try and straighten-up my ball flight.”
Shane Lowry was the best of the three Irish and at level par with two to play.
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