Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Ragged Rory McIlroy suffers more agony

Tough day: Rory McIlroy struggles with his game, yet again
Tough day: Rory McIlroy struggles with his game, yet again

Rory McIlroy's struggles continue after he slumped to a seven over par opening round at the BMW Championship in Illinois.

After winning the tournament 12 months ago the Holywood man got off to a nightmare start when he doubled bogeyed at only his second hole of the day – the par 3 11th, after starting on the back nine at Conway Farms.

He carded two fives, two sixes and a triple bogey seven in a nightmare round, which included just two birdies.

His fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell got his round off to a flyer with back-to-back birdies, but with five bogeys on his card he finished one under par.

With leader Brandt Snedeker on eight under par after the first round McIlroy is already all but out of the running, while McDowell has some work to do if he is going to challenge on Sunday.

Snedeker holds a one shot lead from Zach Johnson, with Tiger Woods among a group of three players who are a further two shots back.

Although McIlroy clawed a shot back on his seventh hole after four successive pars he never really recovered from that early double bogey.

That birdie was followed by two bogeys as he turned at three over par and things got worse immediately after.

He went to six over with a triple bogey on the 10th hole of his round and then battled to keep his round on an even keel with three birdies before dropping another shot on the fifth green – the 14th hole that he played in his round.

A birdie two holes later was some small consolation, but that was followed by another bogey at the penultimate hole before he pared the last.

After his great start McDowell dropped a shot at his fourth hole that was quickly brought back with two more birdies at six and seven.

It was then, however, that McDowell's round started to go array.

He dropped a shot on the very next hole and after four successive pars he then bogeyed successive holes to go back to level par.

McDowell did rally and birdied his 16th and 17th holes, but then dropped another shot at the last.

Meanwhile, already the oldest winner in European Tour history, Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez could improve his own record after taking a one-shot lead in the KLM Open at Kennemer Golf Club.

Jimenez, who broke his leg in a skiing accident last December shortly after winning the Hong Kong Open aged 48 and 318 days, fired eight birdies and two bogeys to card an opening six-under-par 64 in Zandvoort.

Former European Footballer of the Year Andriy Shevchenko plunged to a 12-over-par 84 on his debut on the continent's second-tier Challenge Tour.

The former AC Milan and Chelsea striker, who has a handicap of two and plays left-handed, was 20 strokes behind playing partner and compatriot Victor Riu after the opening round of the Kharkov Superior Cup in their native Ukraine.

"I am not a big fan of football, so I didn't really know much about Andriy, but it was great to play with him," Riu said after ending the day on top of the leaderboard at the Superior Golf and Spa Resort in Kharkov.

Former Ukrainian international Shevchenko (36) said he enjoyed the experience, despite his poor round.

"It's a completely different game when you are under pressure," said the 2004 European Footballer of the Year.

Northern Ireland's Gareth Shaw is tied 28th after opening with a one-under-par 71.

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