Rory McIlroy suffers an opening round of swings and roundabouts | Andy Bull

Rory McIlroy, the pre-tournament beloved, was left with batch to meditate on after struggling to read the greens

It is surprising Rory McIlroy is not a superstitious sort, since he seemed to have tried every other little thing he was able to think of that might help him win. This time he h s come here with a recital guru, Dr Clayton Skaggs from the Central Institute for Human Performance, a stockpile of self-help works and a newfound interest in meditation. But having regard to the lane he started on Thursday, it is just as well he does not believe in omens.

McIlroy blew his opening drive broad right into the trees, just like he did back at the start of the final round in 2018, where reference is started the working day in second place and wound up six photographs back.

This time, McIlroy’s ball thrashed into the leg of a young eyewitnes accompanying back towards the tee and precipitated dead in the pine straw.” You owe me, Rory ,” said here kid.” I really saved you two photographs .”

McIlroy sketched a route out through the trees to the lettuce, aiming low-grade underneath the divisions, but the projectile cracked flush into a trunk and ricocheted away to the other side of the fairway. He required three more from there, so he started with a bogey. He should have procreated it up on the very next puncture, but his short putt wandered idly around the right side of the hole and he had to tap it in for par.

You could tell then that it was going to be one of those daylights when McIlroy would have to sweat every putt. He missed five of them between five and 10 feet, which meant that he required 32 putts and as soon as he stepped off the 18 th he ran back to the practice green.

” I’m going to go try to flesh this out ,” he said.” It was the speak more than anything else. I over-read a few early on, and then I started to under-read them coming in .”

He had a theory that the ball was not ending like he expected because the greens is very much slow, but he resounded quite flummoxed about it.

He finished with a 73, his worst opening round here since 2010. Despite that he toy some fabulous golf tee to green, though, and reeled out a series of preposterously long drives. He averaged 324 yards off the tee and if he was not always that accurate he was good enough out of the bumpy that it did not matter.

Augusta’s founders, Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, would have winced to see the road he dallied their far-famed 13 th by crashing his tee shoot over the trees, but would have enjoyed his magnificent approach on the 15 th, which property on the back advantage of the green.

There were five birdies, three of them at the three remaining par-fives, and six bogeys, including two back-to-back at the 10 th and 11 th, where he fluffed a flaccid little chip, and two more at the 17 th and 18 th, which was a rotten highway to finish.

It had been that course the working day, up on one flaw, down on the next, his round was all fluctuates, straps, roundabouts and arrows. McIlroy said:” I’ve been through it all now before .”

At least he was still in quarrel. In previous years he has devastated his lucks with a scamper of nine bad faults somewhere along the way in the first three days.

McIlroy reckoned the course was there for the taking. There was simply a lick of breeze and after 2 day of heavy rain the sand was soft and absolve, but the tournament committee, eager to protect the old-time place’s honor, were relatively pitiless with the pin positions.

Not that that is what cost him. He said himself that he made” too many mistakes from quite simple orientations “. Which sounds like more of a mental problem than a technological one. You guess that Dr Skaggs may have had a long night over at McIlroy’s house.

Those two aged supporters, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, were chatting about this in the morning.” Right now Rory is dallying probably better than anybody ,” Nicklaus said.” At least from what I’ve seen watching him pattern in the last month or so .”

Player agreed with that.” He has the best swing in the field , no question. The endowment is all there. But it all comes back to the brain .”

Nicklaus had a theory on that, extremely. He feels McIlroy should stop worrying about the grand slam. He says that the entitlement is not problem a damn anyway, which is the kind of thing you can say when you’ve won it yourself.

” I never even thought about it ,” Nicklaus said.” When I won the British Open in’ 66 I don’t recall anyone even mentioning it. So I never thought about it. And if I was in Rory’s situate I would just be looking at trying to earn the Masters , not trying to finish a grand slam. To earn the Masters, that’s enough to worry about it .”

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