Rory McIlroy started the 2012 US Masters exactly as he had finished last year’s edition.
That is, needless to say, in a manner that he would not have wanted following the meltdown of 12 months ago. If he could have chosen any hole to have avoided posting an over par score it would surely have been the first hole of the first round this week. However, having found the trees with his tee shot, he posted a wobbly double bogey and looked more than a little nervous at that stage.
From there McIlroy “steadied the ship” – as he so eloquently put in his post round press conference, though he never threatened the leader on the opening day.
Whilst by no means out of contention, McIlroy will likely be disappointed with his one under par 71, four strokes shy of leader Lee Westwood.
In truth, McIlroy’s round didn’t really get going until the final two holes when he fired back-to-back birdies and one imagines he would have liked to have had a few holes extra to play after the 18th, such was the form he appeared to be playing himself into at that stage.
Having won last year’s US Open just two months after blowing a four stroke final round lead at the Masters; McIlroy once again showed his composure in adversity by sinking a birdie on the par five second having dropped two shots at the first.
His round then progressed in a steady if unspectacular manner with pars from the third hole until birdies at eight and nine were followed by two shots dropped at Amen Corner. From there (the 13th) McIlroy once again played par golf, until the closing brace of birdies put his score into red numbers:
“I think my patience paid off, I didn’t try to force things. I’m coming off the golf course a lot more pleased about my round than I would have been if I had just finished with two fours,” said the 22 year-old after completing his round.
Psychologically if nothing else, to finish the opening round under par instead of at (or over) par will certainly have been a boost for the Northern Irishman, who, whilst not having torn up the field to shreds, is still well in contention going into day two.