McIlroy Dining Out In Rome With Ryder Cup Possibles/Probables.

Rory McIlroy was heading out for the first of many 2023 Ryder Cup bonding sessions after soaring sensationally into the clubhouse lead, helped by holing an eagle second shot on a weather-affected and very windy opening day of the DS Automobiles Italian Open in Rome.

When poor light halted play, and after losing an hour’s play before tee-off, McIlroy was among six players in the clubhouse at four-under but with reigning US Open champ Matthew Fitzpatrick moving to four-under but with three holes still to play early on day two of the event being played on the 2023 Ryder Cup host course of Marco Simone to the north-east of the Italian capital.

Nearly half the Italian field will now resume their second rounds early Friday morning local time.

McIlroy was stuck in the slow lane until reaching the par-4 third hole he was playing as his 12th and with World No. 2 hitting a 112-yard wedge and with his ball landing close to the hole and rolling straight into the cup for a ‘2’.  The eagle igniting a strong finish in McIlroy also grabbing birdies at his 14th and final two holes.

Rory McIlroy has good reason to be a happy chappy on day one at the Italian Open

“I felt like I was half asleep playing the front nine, so I probably shouldn’t have stayed-up so late last night,” said McIlroy, smiling.

“The eagle sort of kick-started my round a little bit and I played some good golf on the way in.  I can’t complain as I played the more difficult nine well today and the easier nine not so well.

“So, it probably evens out and I can now try and tidy-up a few things before going into tomorrow.”

McIlroy will be a cornerstone of Luke Donald’s European side and in what will be the then 34-year-old Irishman’s seventh straight Ryder Cup.

And the process of him being very much akin to an on-course captain began last night (THUS) in the stunning Marco Simone clubhouse when he joined Donald along with vice-captains Eduoardo Molinari and Thomas Bjorn plus other likely players in Fitzpatrick, Francesco Molinari, Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton and Nicolai Hogjaard in a team-bonding dinner.

“I’ve had discussions with Luke and actually a few of us are meeting for dinner tonight for a little bit of team bonding and also to have a talk about the course and how we think it should be set up to favour the European team,” McIlroy said.

McIlroy said the dinner and similar bonding sessions in the 53 weeks till the hosting of the 44th Ryder Cup in the Italian capital.

“I think Whistling Straits is a good sort of demarcation,” said McIlroy.

“That’s all behind us. We have got a core group of guys but let’s build on that again, and instead of filling those three or four spots with older veterans, let’s blood some rookies and let’s get them in and build towards the future. I think that’s important.”


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