'Ecstatic' McIlroy roars into Open contention

Solenn Plantier
Juillet 22, 2017

Rory McIlroy blamed a lack of self-belief for a poor start to his opening round at The Open Championship on Thursday - and a chat with his caddie was what turned things around.

"The back nine is playing really, really hard, so to birdie three of the first six and give myself that little bit of a cushion to play with was nice".

Although McIlroy recorded another bogey at the testing sixth hole, he saved par from perilous positions on the next two holes, then hit four birdies on the back nine.

"I was four-over through three holes a year ago in Boston (at the Deutsche Bank Championship) and won that tournament so I've done it before".

"But I couldn't have done much better today. So I must have aimed 30 yards left of the pin into the crowd, hit a shot, started at the crowd, and stayed at the crowd for a long time before finally the last, I'd say, 20 yards started drifting over, and ended up in the middle of the green".

Meanwhile, co-leader Jordan Spieth rated his display as "nine out of 10".

His front nine of 31 was the best of the day and could easily have been better and, although a couple of bogeys coming home halted his momentum, he ensured he finished the day in red figures with a birdie at the par-five 17th.

McIlroy has endured a frustrating season as he struggled to cope with a rib injury and he was not among the favourites before the tournament to secure a second British Open victory.

"I kept a good, positive attitude".

"That helped and that got me back in a positive frame of mind. Just have to try to keep that going for the next two days", McIlroy said.

That expected wind and rain should make for a fascinating second round, but it's an opportunity for McIlroy to make a statement early on Friday. And then I took a little bit from that.

What key thoughts? "Yeah, just a couple of little thoughts, keys, to tell myself before I step in to hit a shot or step in to hit a putt. What the (bleep) are you doing?" Fellow American Jamie Lovemark was level par after a 69, with Masters champion Sergio Garcia on two over after returning the same score, despite injuring his shoulder after lashing out at a gorse bush on the fourth. It wasn't I couldn't look within myself. So, yeah, there was a lot of quality out there and I was happy to see that.

That put him within three shots of the lead held by Matt Kuchar, a seemingly unthinkable prospect at the same point on Thursday.

"They're both huge rounds for very different reasons, but this was definitely the round that got me back into the championship". This came after McIlroy got a par on the 10th hole. These are the four biggest tournaments of the year, and you want to go out there and shoot a good score and get off to a good start.

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