How Rory McIlroy Felt About Bucking First-Round Trend During U.S. Open

McIlroy got off to a fast start for the second time in as many majors

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BROOKLINE — Rory McIlroy recently has gotten off to slow starts during a number of major championships, but he put that trend further behind him Thursday after his first round of the 2022 U.S. Open at The Country Club.

McIlroy, who shot 5-under in the opening round at last month’s PGA Championship, was a combined 8-over par in the last three Masters Tournaments. It’s hindered McIlroy in major play, as the Northern Irishman hasn’t won one of golf’s four biggest events since 2014.

McIlroy has put himself in position early in Brookline, though.

“You feel like you’re right in the tournament from the start of the week, which is nice,” McIlroy said Thursday after carding a 3-under 67. “I’m going into tomorrow with the mindset of ‘Let’s keep it going,’ rather than where is the cut line or whatever. If you don’t get off to a great start, those thoughts start to creep in, ‘OK, what do I need to just be here for the weekend?’ It’s certainly a different mindset when you get off to a good start, and yeah, I’ve just got to keep it going.”

McIlroy briefly held the outright lead at 4-under par before his lone blemish of the day came on a round-ending bogie on the par-4 9th hole.

To no surprise, McIlroy has some company at the top. Adam Hadwin holds the outright lead after the first round with a 4-under 66. Callum Tarren, David Lingmerth, Joel Dahmen, Matthys Daffue and Richard Bland all sit in a tie with McIlroy at a 3-under 67. Seven more golfers are 2-under 68.

“You’d take 67 around this golf course any day,” McIlroy said. “Even though I’m standing up here slightly frustrated that I bogeyed the last, it’s a great start to the tournament.

“I felt like I did most things well today,” he added. “I certainly putted well, and I hit the ball in the right spots, and I hit a lot of greens, gave myself plenty of chances. Just basically did everything that you need to do at a U.S. Open.”

While McIlroy certainly wouldn’t be atop the leaderboard without his birdies on the par-3 16th, par-4 18th, par-4 7th and par-5 8th, two specific par saves were just as impactful. McIlroy saved himself with putts on the par-3 2nd and par-4 5th, the latter of which came on the heels of a relatable reaction after the World’s No. 3 hit consecutive shots from bunkers.

“I think one of the things over the years that I maybe haven’t done as well at U.S. Opens is when I’ve put myself in those sort of positions, like in that long rough on 2 or where I’ve found myself on 5, trying to be a little too heroic with the first shot and leaving it in there or just sort of completely getting it wrong, and then all of a sudden you’re scrambling to make a double,” McIlroy said.

“I think walking up to those greens, I was accepting of the fact that just give yourself a putt of 10, 15, 20 feet for par, and I feel like I’m putting well enough that I’ll have a chance to make those,” McIlroy said. ” … To hole two putts like that and keep momentum going, that was huge, especially on 5.”

McIlroy now will look to keep his momentum going as he starts the second round Friday. McIlroy will take the first tee at 1:25 p.m. ET.

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