McIlroy shoots 71, stays at even to start Dell Technologies
Norton, MA- Rory McIlroy is a favorite among the fans at TPC Boston. The Holywood, Northern Ireland, native draws respect from the heavily Irish population in New England. And he’s won this tournament twice before in 2012 and 2016. The victory in 2016 helped pave the way to McIlroy’s first FedEx Cup win that year. “I feel like a lot of people pull for me here. I’ve always felt good here. I’ve played a bit more in the New England area in the past few years, playing Travelers down the road. I like it. It’s my sort of golf course. It’s sort of tree lined. It’s bent greens. It’s everything that I feel like I do well with.” Friday was his first round of tournament golf since the PGA Championship, and despite familiarity with the course, he showed obvious signs of rust.
McIlroy’s first nine holes offered only one birdie, on the par four 4th hole. He drained a 31’4″ birdie putt after recovering from a bad drive to the right. In fact, Rory’s driver betrayed him, with only a 42.86% driving accuracy performance. He practically alternated between good and bad drives. His iron game was still strong enough to hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation, a 77.78% rate. Then his largest struggle hit: putting. Rory’s strokes gained stat was -0.015. He only hit the one birdie on the front and missed six birdie putts within five feet on the front.
At the turn, McIlroy’s struggles came more into view. He left himself long birdie putts on 10 and 12 that he missed. Then on 13, Rory drove to the rough and three putted, including a missed 8 footer, for bogey. Two holes later, Rory’s second shot hit the bunker. He rebounded, chipping to 11′ of the hole. However, Rory missed that putt to bogey 15 and put him +1. Fortunately, the fan favorite rebounded. He shot out of two bunkers to six feet of the hole. He then drained the putt for his second birdie of the day and finished Friday even par.
Rory took the time from August 12th until today off because his swing was “…getting too inconsistent, so I needed that ten-day window where I’d say for a seven-day period I didn’t hit a golf ball without doing the drill that I’m going to do.” Unfortunately, the time to drill and work did not have it’s intended effect on the round today. He’ll need to be more consistent off the tee and on the green to climb the leader board. Fortunately, he’s only four strokes off the lead in a crowded early stage of the Dell Technologies Championship. A closing birdie should fill him with confidence entering Saturday. Rory did not play badly. He just looked rusty after a long time between tournament action.