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Rory needs to up his game to make splash at Riviera

 

Weather beaten: Rory McIlroy struggled at the Genesis Open yesterday
Weather beaten: Rory McIlroy struggled at the Genesis Open yesterday
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

So far the Genesis Open has had about everything you could possibly wish not to happen at a golf tournament.

First rounds being pushed back to the second day are far from ideal and are a severe inconvenience for trying to get the tournament completed in four days, but it's not an unprecedented occurrence.

As for the first round being aborted and restarted, well that's another matter.

And yet that's what tournament organisers had to contend with at Riviera Country Club in the Pacific Palisades, California, when, after just 23 players had started their opening rounds on Thursday morning, they had to call them back in again at 7.30am due to the worsening conditions.

Since only a small portion of the field had taken to the course, and had only got through a small handful of holes, the decision was made to wipe their scores out and start all over again when the weather improved.

The decision to bring the players in was the right one given that the visibility at 6.40am for the first tee time was minimal and rapidly declining, while some tee boxes were slowly beginning to flood and some pin positions were looking impossible to reach under the conditions.

"We don't do that very often, but if I had it to do over again, we would have delayed the starting times," said Mark Russell, Vice President of Rules of Competition.

"It would be great if we could have played some golf (early)… losing Thursday puts you behind the 8-ball right off the bat."

As a result, with players still completing their first rounds as late as 2pm Pacific Time yesterday afternoon, there's now doubt over whether the tournament can finish tomorrow, particularly with the rain due to roll in again.

"Everyone would like to have a champion on Sunday evening, but we're dealing with (catching up on) Thursday right now," rules official Steve Rintoul said yesterday.

"The golf course was quickly going downhill after 50 minutes of play to where we had teeing grounds ahead of where the first groups were that were quickly becoming unplayable," he said.

The players did return to the course at 1.40pm Pacific Time on Thursday afternoon to restart the tournament, which this time continued until light stopped play.

That meant Rory McIlroy didn't begin his round until yesterday morning alongside playing partners Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas, and the wait wasn't worthwhile.

Yet again it was the putter that proved the bane of all his problems, and eventually it caused his usually trustworthy driver to abandon him part way through the round as well.

He had been two-under through eight, taking advantage of the par-five first and then rolling in a 20-footer for birdie at the eighth to sit under par.

However, the wheels came off one hole later. The drive was sublime, a 320-yard boomer down the centre of the fairway, but his sand wedge approach was woefully awry and a three-putt bogey followed.

Not only that, but birdie chances came and went at the driveable par-four 10th and the par-five 11th, quickly to be succeeded by back-to-back bogeys on the 12th and 13th.

Even more frustrating than the rain beginning to fall again on the 17th was another missed four-footer for birdie, to cap a miserable day on the greens and a one-over 72.

Had playing partner Thomas not been playing so well it perhaps wouldn't have looked so bad, only for the World No.4 to knock around in a five-under 66 that included a double-bogey on the 12th.

Woods, meanwhile, signed for a relatively stress-free one-under 70.

But for others, the weather delay didn't prove to be any kind of deterrent, among those being leader JB Holmes, whose eight-under par 63 had him one shot in the lead after 18 holes.

Jordan Spieth was one of those to benefit from getting part of his first round in on Thursday, carding a seven-under par opening round across the two days to sit one adrift of Holmes.

Patrick Rodgers also got his round completed early yesterday to sit in a tie for third at five-under alongside the aforementioned Thomas, Tony Finau, Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley and Kramer Hickok.

With time to make up, most players were back out on the course again last night to at least start their second rounds, even if most were unlikely to get them completed.

For all the latest information on Ulsterman McIlroy's second round, check out www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sport.

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