Rory McIlroy not comfortable at Harbour Town as he opens with 72 at RBC Heritage

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Last Updated: 18/06/20 6:24pm

Rory McIlroy was three over at the turn before recovering

Rory McIlroy admitted he felt out of his comfort zone as he made a poor start to the RBC Heritage with a one-over 72.

The world No 1 was hoping for a positive response to his frustrating final round at last week’s Charles Schwab Challenge, where he was three shots off the lead overnight but stuttered to the turn in 41 to take himself out of contention.

McIlroy hit only six fairways in his first round

McIlroy hit only six fairways in his first round

But McIlroy struggled to keep his ball on the short grass from the tee at Harbour Town, hitting only six fairways and slipping to three over par until he rallied with two late birdies to give himself a little momentum heading into round two.

McIlroy bogeyed the 11th, his second hole and then needed four shots to find the green at the par-five 15th and, although he did find the fairway at 18, he blocked his approach and failed to get up-and-down to avoid his third dropped shot of the back nine.

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He steadied the ship with a run of pars before a good sand-save at the long fifth earned him his first birdie of the day, and he finished on a bright note when he holed a 30-foot putt for a closing three at the ninth, although that left him eight shots adrift of early leader Ian Poulter.

“I’m missing my three-wood left and missing my driver right,” said McIlroy, who is making only his second appearance in the tournament, 11 years after his first. “I got a little better towards the end and hit some decent tee shots.

McIlroy admitted his lack of familiarity with the course was a problem

McIlroy admitted his lack of familiarity with the course was a problem

“If you’re in two minds about what to do off the tees around here and get a little bit sort of guidey, it can bite you. So I didn’t get it in play enough to give myself shots or looks at hitting it close into greens and making birdies. It was just a little bit of a struggle, so I’m going to work on it a little bit this afternoon and see if I can straighten it out.”

McIlroy also believes a lack of familiarity with the tight layout put him at a disadvantage, adding: “I wasn’t particularly comfortable out there. I played here once before in ’09, and I just can remember not being that comfortable around here then, and it’s still sort of the same.

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“I’m just not comfortable and sort of trying to pick lines and really commit to shots. I just wasn’t as committed today as I need to be around here.

“There are a few holes, obviously, that are familiar, a few on the front side, obviously a few coming in as well. But there are a lot of holes around the turn that I didn’t really remember too well. I played a couple of practice rounds just trying to get lines off tees and get adjusted and feel comfortable with the clubs that you’re hitting.

“Then again, it’s a course that, once you do get it in play, you can give yourself plenty of chances.”

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