Rory McIlroy is determined to put his ‘freaky Friday’ struggles behind him tomorrow and, instead, capitalise on his excellent opening round in the Open Championship.
The 25-year-old carded a flawless six-under 66 to take the clubhouse lead on day of this year’s tournament at Royal Liverpool. However, fast starts haven’t been an issue for the Northern Irishman this year. Fridays? They’ve been a whole other story.
Entering this week, McIlroy was a combined 51-under-par for his first rounds this year. That’s as compared with a worrying nine-over for his second rounds.
Just last week, he carded a course record 64 to lead the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen after the first day, only to hand back every one of the seven shots he picked up on day two, where he shot a miserable 78.
So, is this the week the former world No.1 finally buries his Friday hoodoo? He certainly hopes so, and even has a game plan to achieve it.
“Whenever I go out and play on Thursdays, there’s not many expectations,” said McIlroy. “You’re going out there and you’re trying to find a rhythm, just trying to play your way into the round.
“When you go back out on Friday after a good score, you know what you can do on the golf course, so you’re going out with some expectations compared to Thursday, when you’re not going out with many.
“I am glad I went up to Aberdeen last week and played under some different conditions." - Rory McIlroy
"I think I’ve just got to approach it like that and start off trying to hit solid shots the first few holes and play my way into the round, just like I did today.”
There’s no question he did just that. At times, McIlroy delivered a links shot-making masterclass, conjuring up superb birdies at two, five and six on the front nine, as well as on ten, 12 and 16 on the back nine.
“I hit some really good shots on the first holes and that gave me confidence and then I could from there,” he added. “But really I just have to take it one hole at a time, one shot at a time. I know everyone says it and you’ve heard it a million times but it’s true. That’s what I’ll be trying to do tomorrow.”
McIlroy also said that playing last week’s Scottish Open - where he finished tied for 14th - had stood him in good stead for taking on Hoylake’s beautifully manicured links.
“I am glad I went up to Aberdeen last week and played under some different conditions,” he said. “I thought that it might prepare me well for this week and I feel like I’m ready for whatever the conditions.”
Can Rory McIlroy maintain his lead to the end?
Rory McIlroy is in a good position to make a push for Open Championship glory after opening with a 66 at Royal Liverpool. Do you think he can finish the job? Leave your thoughts in our 'Comments' section below.