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Rory McIlroy turns attention to putter after '10-hour grind' in bid to put 'dreadful' Genesis display in past with promising opener at WGC-Workday Championship

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Rory McIlroy chats to playing partner Justin Thomas during his first round at The Concession GC.

Rory McIlroy chats to playing partner Justin Thomas during his first round at The Concession GC.

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Rory McIlroy chats to playing partner Justin Thomas during his first round at The Concession GC.

Rory McIlroy has revealed that a 10-hour 'grind' on Wednesday has helped him to - hopefully - but his 'dreadful' performance at last week's Genesis Invitational behind him, even if there is still work to be done.

The World No.8 fired an encouraging three-under 69 in his opening round at the WGC-Workday Championship to finish just outside the top 10, three shots off the lead.

That was largely down to his tee-to-green display as he hit nine of 14 fairways and 14 greens with an altogether more pleasing round than the two that had left him seven over par and seven shots outside the cut mark last week.

"I was dreadful last week at Riviera," he conceded after his first ever competitive round at The Concession GC. "I put some work in and it's starting to feel a little bit better. I felt my tee-to-green game today was a lot better than it was over the last few days."

That doesn't mean, however, that the increased range activity wasn't set to continue ahead of Friday's second round, which he begins at 5.37pm GMT.

"I'll probably hit some balls first, I feel like I've got a decent feeling on what I'm trying to do, then hit some putts and try to get that figured out as well," he said.

And perhaps that's now the crux of the issue; the flatstick, having switched TaylorMade putters from a Spider X to a TP Juno for the week.

McIlroy left a string of putts short on the front nine and then even once he found the pace of the greens, he fell back into a rut of missing short par putts.

"I don't feel like I made bad strokes," he said. "There might have been a couple of misreads and putts that I felt that I hit good that just didn't do what I thought they were going to do.

"I'll go do some work here in a little bit and try to get it figured out for tomorrow."

The history books suggest that this will be a good week for McIlroy, with his previous results following missed cuts in 2019 seeing him win the Canadian Open and finish fourth at the WGC-FedEx St Jude.

And for long stretches it looked like the Holywood man was off to that ideal start this week too, particularly on a front nine that yielded three birdies and no dropped shots.

McIlroy started sensationally, firing to three feet on his opening hole, the 10th, after finding the fairway bunker, and then added birdies at the par-five 13th and the par-four 16th with a nice approach to seven feet.

You could even forgive a string of putts on three separate holes that he left short as he struggled with the pace, but it was his errant work with the flat stick that cost him badly.

It looked like his only issue was with the pace of the greens, but after the turn McIlroy floundered.

A miss from three feet led to a bogey at the first, followed by further misses from four feet at both the fourth and fifth to drop another two strokes.

In between that, McIlroy added birdies at the second - ironically with a nice stroke from 12 feet - and the par-fives, the third and seventh, but a birdie miss from six feet at the eighth ended his round on a sour note.

Meanwhile, Jordanstown's Stephanie Meadow opened her 2021 season with a four-over 76 in the first round of the Gainbridge LPGA in Orlando, Florida.

The 29-year-old picked up a birdie on her second hole at Lake Nona but struggled thereafter, dropping shots on the third and fourth before finding three more bogeys to leave her with plenty of work to do to reach the weekend.

Belfast Telegraph


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