Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Rory McIlroy: Back me for Open revival

Frederick Owens | 21 July, 2017, 03:55

"When I won those three tournaments in '14 and I was where I was in the game, yeah, of course, I thought, okay, I really can keep this going", he said. I was trying to.

After making the turn in 39, the four-time major victor made his first birdie on the 11th and then added three more over his last four holes, including 17 and 18, the last one coming off a 20-foot putt. I feel today it helped a lot more than at other times because I needed something.

"Whatever", replied McIlroy, who had bogeyed four of his first five holes and was about to drop another shot at No. 6. And it turned around for me, thankfully.

"It definitely helped", he added. "But J.P. kept me positive out there, so that was very much appreciated". "So he did a great job".

2011 victor Darren Clarke is 10 behind clubhouse leaders Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka after carding a first-round five-over-par 75 at The Open.

Spieth carded a flawless round comprising five birdies and put on a putting masterclass whenever he found a spot of bother.

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Koepka was making his first start since landing his maiden major title and despite relaxing with family and friends in recent weeks, but arrived at Birkdale a week before the tournament to get back in competition mode.

Koepka continued where he left off at Erin Hills last month as the US Open victor became the first player to lead The Open after winning the American major since the brilliant Lee Trevino back in 1971. "If I can go out and play a good quality round of golf in the morning and try to get in the clubhouse somewhere around even par, under par, I'll still be around for the weekend". I was excited to get over here. "But just with the way I finished, I feel really good about it". I'm just waiting for that round or that moment or that week where it clicks and I'll be off and running'. I wanted to have those juices flowing.

"Those thoughts went through my mind - I was thinking "Jeez here we go again". It's hard to get into it. I was a little anxious, timid.

Koepka, Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar now share the lead at 5-under 65.

England's Ian Poulter and rising American star Justin Thomas were both in the clubhouse on 67.

Defending champion Henrik Stenson, Australia's Jason Day and in-form Spaniard Jon Rahm signed for rounds of 1-under, while world number one Dustin Johnson and in-form Rickie Fowler could only manage rounds of 1-over like McIlroy.

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