McIlroy back on the straight and narrow
Rory McIlroy has readjusted his sights at The 146th Open and now has the Claret Jug firmly in focus.
After six holes of the first round at Royal Birkdale, the 2014 Champion Golfer of the Year had racked up five bogeys and looked to be offering a perfect illustration of the golfing mantra: ‘You can’t win a championship on the first day, but you can lose one.’
It is to McIlroy’s credit that he fought back to finish the day on just one over par and then followed up on Friday with a round of 68 that moved him into red figures on the scoreboard for the first time.
On one under par, the Northern Irishman set off for lunch satisfied that he had climbed up the leaderboard and was now within three strokes of Matt Kuchar, the clubhouse leader.
“I set myself a target of being in a better position today than I was yesterday,” said the former world No.1. “I finished the (first) round one over par and I wanted to be at least level par or under par, if possible, for the championship.
“I've been able to achieve the goal that I set myself. They're both huge rounds for very different reasons. But this was definitely the round that got me back into the championship.”
If he does go on to lift the iconic trophy for the second time, McIlroy is certain to credit J P Fitzgerald, his caddie, for getting him back on the straight and narrow. As all hell was breaking loose in the first round, Fitzgerald berated the player with the words, “You’re Rory McIlroy. What the hell are you doing?”
McIlroy admitted on Friday that it was not the first time. “He does do it quite often,” he revealed. “Whether it penetrates my head is a different thing. He's great. He tries to keep me as positive as he possibly can.
“We've been together for nine years now and he knows me pretty well. And he knows what to say out there and what not to say. And he definitely said the right thing yesterday when I needed it.”