Rory McIlroy turned out a awful start to his first round at Royal Birkdale as his bid to get his season back on track failed to get going. Being tied for 58th isn't great, but it's better than where he appeared headed and keeping a good attitude may have been the key to his recovery.
'If I was a betting company and saw my form over the past few weeks, you would say that's probably a fair enough price.
"But I've still got plenty of time to, I guess, rekindle those feelings and that sort of play". I didn't let my head drop too much. "That helped, that got me back in a positive frame of mind".
"Thankfully I showed the character today to bounce back and hang tough when I needed to", said McIlroy, who praised the work of his bagman. If he can keep this going, he's almost guaranteed the best Open Championship finish of his career in his second-ever start (missed cut in 1998). Prior to Thursday's round, he was 15 over par in his last five openers.
Rory McIlroy was standing on the sixth tee and already doubting his chances of making the weekend at the British Open when his negative thoughts were interrupted by his caddie, J.P. Fitzgerald. "You're Rory McIlroy", the caddie said. "What the f*** are you doing?" They were more inspirational lug nuts that kept the wheels from falling off.
A general view of a scoreboard showing Rory McIlroy's five over par
"I'm an early riser so I followed the guys going off really early and the first hole looked like to be playing about a par six". I was trying to.
"JP, he reminded me who I was, basically".
McIlroy has missed three cuts in the last four tournaments and his Open challenge looked to be be over before it had begun until he was jolted out of his malaise by Fitzgerald.
"I could be standing here and [have] hit 18 greens and shot one over and missed every putt and feel bad", he stated. But because of the way I started, I actually feel really positive. Thursday was windy and cool, but the rest of the week is expected to be filled with rain and wind gusting up to 60 kilometres an hour. "But just with the way I finished, I feel really good about it". He hasn't played competitively since winning the U.S. Open last month, but once Koepka got into a groove around the turn a run he got more birdie opportunities and took advantage, with a run of four birdies in six holes and just 21 putts for the round.
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