Fireworks for McIlroy in aggressive Round 1 game plan
Rory McIlroy delivered on his promise to go out swinging as he made a solid start to his Claret Jug challenge.
McIlroy said he wanted to play like the care-free teenager who won the Silver Medal here in 2007 and he certainly didn’t hold back at Carnoustie, where the scorched fairways have been baked to near concrete.
Fortune favours the brave and while some cautiously plotted their way around the course, wary of balls that can run and run into trouble, McIlroy sized up every opportunity to let rip with his driver.
You don’t win three major titles, including being crowned Champion Golfer in 2014, without knowing how to balance risk and reward in this sport.
But McIlroy won’t have too many complaints about a two-under par 69 with leaves him three shots back from early leader, American Kevin Kisner.
And he insists his high-stakes strategy is the way ahead - even if it meant some scrambling, including a long range putt to save par at the 16th.
“Even if you play aggressive around here, you might make more bogeys than playing it safe, but you're going to make more birdies as well,” said McIlroy.
“I got away with some tee shots, but at the same time, I think that's what I have to do. That's my game plan this week.
“I’m convinced that that's the way that I should play it. It's not going to be for everyone, but it worked out pretty well for me and I would have taken 69 to start the day.”
McIlroy admitted he questioned his plan of attack on the par four 3rd hole, which a handful of players took on from the tee.
Playing partners Marc Leishman and Thorbjorn Olsen played it safe with irons and duly marched down the fairway. McIlroy stayed on the tee box for another 15 minutes, waiting for the green to clear.
His booming drive then found the rough at the back of green but a neat up and down picked up his first stroke.
And he also believes there is plenty of room for improvement with his driving - which is an ominous warning for his rivals on the leaderboard.
“I’d been waiting so long I didn’t want to mess that up,” he admitted. “That hole was a validation for me, it proved to me it’s the right way for me to play here, it was a little personal victory.”
McIlroy’s preference would be for three more days of the breathless conditions he played his first round - but Friday’s weather forecast doesn’t look like obliging him.
He’ll be out shortly before 8am on Friday, when rain is expected - though the winds seem to be consistent across the day.
“I’m not worried about it, it won’t soften the course up and I’ve just got to remember to bring my umbrella,” he added.
“Hopefully I can get off to a good fast start and try to make a few birdies and get close to the leaders and set a score.”
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