McIlroy Singles Out U.S. Open Starting 68 As Best Major Round In Four Years.

Rory McIlroy singled out his round of 68 on day one of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach as a best Major Championship individual round showing in four years.

McIlroy, and despite kick-starting his day with a bogey, signed for a three-under par 68 to head the clubhouse just two strokes behind the American duo of Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele along with former Open winner, Louis Oosthuizen who signed for five-under par 66s in the cool and overcast conditions along the Pacific Ocean course near Carmel.

McIlroy’s performance is the first occasion he’s broken 70 in a U.S. Open since a closing day 66 in the 2015 championship at Chambers Bay, and strangely also laid-out along the Pacific Ocean in Washington State.

“I am really pleased with a 68 as it’s a tough start off the 10th tee and after taking a bogey there I came back well and didn’t make a bogey after that,” said McIlroy.

“So, to play my last 17 holes in four-under par was good.  We had benign conditions and the golf course is very, very soft for a U.S. Open right now but you needed to get out there and shoot something in 60s today as I can see the course getting a little bit harder as the week goes on.

“I missed every fairway at the three par-5s, so I need to do some work in playing the par 5s better.

“It’s been a while since I have felt so good about every aspect of my game and the last time I shot in the 60s in a U.S. Open was at Chambers Bay in 2015, and I would have to go back to that point when I felt as comfortable playing great golf on the biggest stages.

“Also, with two wins this year and a lot of other good performances, I feel comfortable.

“So, overall happy with my day’s work.”

Six weeks after turning the ripe old age of 30 and McIlroy teed-up in his 12th U.S. Open and his 43rd Major Championship.

And while McIlroy broke through to capture a first Major with his U.S. Open success at Congressional in suburban Washington D.C., the U.S. Open has been far-and-away the unkindest to the Ulsterman in recent years.

Indeed, McIlroy arrived at Pebble Beach having missed the cut in his past three U.S. Open appearances and that is something McIlroy has not done in either of the other three Majors.

McIlroy’s missed the cut just once in the Masters (2010), played all four rounds in every Open Championship and also in each of his 10 PGA Championship showings, and a Major he’s won twice in 2012 and 2014.

He’s performed the poorest in a U.S. Open and has, in fact, missed the cut in five of 10 U.S. Open’s.

However, McIlroy teed-up along the Pacific Ocean shoreline coming off a brilliant seven-shot success in last Sunday’s RBC Canadian Open, and in a tournament that again showed to the sports world how McIlroy can turn it on when he gets into the zone.

McIlroy was seeing the hole on that final day last Sunday as big as a bucket and finally burying any late Sunday night horror viewing show in producing his lowest score on the PGA Tour.

And the new World No. 3 picked-up from where he left off in over 4,300 klms away in Ontario, Canada.

Drawn to compete for the first two rounds alongside fellow Irish Open winner, Jon Rahm and Aussie Marc Leishman, found a greenside bunker at his opening hole, the par-4 10th to walk off with a bogey ‘5’.

McIlroy, and sporting a No. 2 haircut, regained the shot landing a wedge to 14-feet at the par-4 13th hole and holed the putt to get back to level par and then went to one-under superbly holing a 10-footer for birdie at the par-3 17th he was playing at his eighth.

McIlroy then muscled his way into a share of fifth place at three-under par thanks to back-to-back birdies at his 11th and 12th holes, and those being the par-4 second and the par-4 third hole.

At the second hole on the Pebble Beach scorecard, McIlroy split the fairway with his drive, sent his second to just on two-dozen feet and rolled-in his third birdie of the day.

A few minutes later, McIlroy went to three-under at the dog-left third in sending a 22-foot birdie putt to the bottom of the cup.

McIlroy then rounded-off his opening day effort with six closing pars, including missing the fairway at the par-5 sixth hole and the easiest-playing hole early on day one of the $12.5m event, where he could only move his second shot some 50-yards in the typical characteristic USGA course set-up rough.

Commentating on McIlroy’s first round performance was Dubai Duty Free Irish Open host, Paul McGinley.

“What we saw last Sunday in Canada, was Rory at his best and it’s that consistency that’s been lacking in this game,” said McGinley on SKY TV.

“Winning the Players in March and now the Canadian Open is the form we all know Rory is capable, and he’s back to the best of his career.

“He will be thrilled with three-under and especially after commenting in his press conference yesterday that he hasn’t got off to a good start in the majors this year.”

Graeme McDowell, and clearly buoyed after securing a place into next month’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush, ended his round minutes behind McIlroy with a very eye-catching and bogey-free two-under par 69.

G Mac, and also the defending Pebble Beach U.S. Open champion from 2010, parred his opening 12 holes before finally getting one to drop at the par-4 fourth hole he was playing as his 13th where he landed a 106-yard wedge to just under five-feet for a birdie ‘3’.

The new World No. 101, and with McDowell up 137 places on the rankings since the end of 2018, then birdied his next hole where he two-putted what was his 15th hole and par-5 sixth on the card.

The effort handed McDowell a very encouraging share of 10th place, one shot behind McIlroy and only three strokes off Fowler’s lead, and also the then only bogey-free Pebble Beach round.

Sadly, Shane Lowry will now be fighting to make the cut having slumped from one-over through 13 holes but to end in the proverbial golfing ambulance in doubling his 15th, making birdie on 16 but then finding deep rough left of the green at his last and also taking a double-bogey ‘6’.

Lowry’s score of a four-over par 75 saw him end his round just inside the top-100.



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