Rory McIlroy struggles with opening 74 at Valspar Championship

McIlroy’s only birdie came after he holed out from a bunker on the seventh hole

Rory McIlroy  plays a shot from a bunker on the 12th hole during the first round of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course  in Palm Harbor, Florida. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy plays a shot from a bunker on the 12th hole during the first round of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor, Florida. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

 

Rory McIlroy’s Masters preparations suffered another blow as he struggled to an opening 74 on his maiden appearance in the Valspar Championship.

McIlroy’s only birdie came courtesy of holing a bunker shot on the seventh, his 16th hole of the day, while two bogeys and a clumsy double-bogey seven on the fifth left him three over par.

The 28-year-old began the season in superb form with a tie for third in Abu Dhabi and a runners-up finish in Dubai, but missed the cut on his first PGA Tour start at Pebble Beach and followed that with a tie for 20th in the Genesis Open and 59th in the Honda Classic.

McIlroy told a pre-tournament press conference at Innisbrook that he was “totally ready” for the Masters and felt he would have a good chance of the victory he needs at Augusta National to complete the career Grand Slam if the first Major of the year got under way this week.

But his performance on Thursday told a somewhat different story after starting from the 10th with 10 straight pars before failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker on the second.

Worse was to come on the fifth after a wayward drive into the trees forced McIlroy to pitch out sideways, a mistake he compounded by taking four to get down from just short of the green.

And although the birdie on the seventh repaired some of the damage, McIlroy dropped another shot on his final hole to finish three-over par, seven shots off the early clubhouse leader, Canada’s Corey Connors. South Korea’s Whee Kim and American Kelly Kraft are a shot off the lead on three under.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia had to settle for an opening 70 after dropping two shots in his last six holes, with Ryder Cup team-mates Justin Rose and Luke Donald also finishing one under par.

Waterford golfer Séamus Power was also part of the early starters but struggled with a five-over 76 that included seven bogeys and two birdies.

Shane Lowry, Pádraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell are among the late starters in the first round.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.