McIlroy shrugs off Masters disappointment; rugby’s numbers game makes no sense
Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot from a bunker on the seventh hole during the first round of the 2019 Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club. Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
It’s fair to say it hasn’t taken Rory McIlroy too long to shake off his Masters disappointment. On his first appearance since failing to contend at Augusta, McIlroy got back to a favoured stomping ground at Quail Hollow in North Carolina and did so with aplomb by opening with a round of five under par 66 to take the lead alongside Joel Dahmen. McIlroy – who has won this event twice including when he shot a 61 in 2015 – made just one birdie and one bogey on his front nine before turning on the after-burners on the way in by making birdies at the 10th, 11th, 14th, 15th and 16th – the last of which was thanks to a 339-yard drive to reduce what is usually a long Par 4 to nothing more than a drive and a short iron. The 29-year-old – who turns 30 on Saturday – is looking to pick up a second win this season to add to The Players Championship.
On to rugby and Matt Williams is writing this morning about the numerical equations which rugby seems to bog itself down in. Why do team lists go from 15 to nine and then back from one to eight? And why this weekend do we have six teams competing in the Pro14 quarter-finals? It’s safe to say this is an issue which has caught his attention. Meanwhile, Johnny Watterson spoke to James Ryan yesterday who certainly hasn’t suffered from any second season syndrome. However, the challenges have got tougher and Ryan knows a quantum leap from Leinster’s best performance of the eight months against Toulouse last time out is required and expected next time out against Saracens in the European Champions’ Cup final. This weekend the All-Ireland League final takes place between Cork Constitution and Clontarf and, for 26-year-old Angus Lloyd, it’s just another step in a hectic rugby schedule. This season Lloyd has made his debut for Connacht as well as playing for Clontarf while also studying medicine in the College of Surgeons.