Matthew Fitzpatrick and Webb Simpson shot opening-round 66s to set the pace at the WGC-Workday Championship; Rory McIlroy three back despite a disappointing performance on the greens at The Concession Club.
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 26/02/21 12:57am
Rory McIlroy was left rueing a frustrating putting display despite making an encouraging start to the WGC-Workday Championship.
The Northern Irishman, looking to join Dustin Johnson as the only players to win all four World Golf Championship titles, sits three strokes off the pace after an opening-round 69 at The Concession Golf Club.
McIlroy mixed six birdies with three bogeys in a solid performance on Thursday, although would have been closer to leaders Matt Fitzpatrick and Webb Simpson had it not been for four missed putts from inside eight feet.
“I missed three putts on the last nine holes that I thought for sure were going to go right to left, and then I missed one on another hole that I gave a little less break as a reaction to those and that one dove and broke left,” McIlroy told Sky Sports.
“I felt like I got a good feeling with what I’m doing with the long game so I’ll hit a few balls to try to groove that in and I’ll go to the putting green to try to figure it out a bit.
“Of course it’s frustrating because you come off the course thinking you could be three or four shots lower than you were, but I’ve just got to keep putting the work in and hopefully it finds its way in there.
“I holed some good putts out there, it’s not that I didn’t hole anything, it’s just that I missed a few.”
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McIlroy made a close-range birdie after a stunning approach from a fairway bunker at the tenth, his opening hole, then left his eagle try at the par-five 13th short of the hole to leave another tap-in.
The four-time major championship holed a 10-footer to save par at the 15th and made an eight-foot gain at the next to reach the turn in 33, only to card a three-putt bogey from 30 feet at the par-four first.
McIlroy followed back-to-back gains from the second by missing from inside five feet at the fourth and fifth, with the 31-year-old taking advantage of the par-five seventh but unable to add another birdie from six feet at the eighth.
Watch the WGC-Workday Championship throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues on Friday with Featured Groups from 4pm on Sky Sports Golf