After opening his bid to win the Claret Jug with an adventurous two-under 69, Rory McIlroy responded to Butch Harmon’s criticism of him.
Sky Sports Golf analyst Harmon, coach to some of the world’s top golfers, described four-time major champ Rory as ‘a robot’ on the eve of the championship.
“I would like to see him start playing golf and stop playing golf-swing,” said Harmon. “He looks like a robot out there when I see him practice putting.
“This is a young kid who still one of the best players in the world.
“He needs to understand that - forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf.”
McIlroy, whose opening salvo at Carnoustie left him three shots off the first round lead set by American Kevin Kisner, said after his round that he doesn’t “take any notice of the criticism”.
“I like Butch,” he said. “Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical.
“It's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening. I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate.”
Despite being struck down by a dose of the ‘lefts’ off the tee – he hit just four of 15 fairways – McIlroy scrambled impressively, hitting 14 of his 18 greens in regulation.