Rory McIlroy did little to dispel the view he is out of sorts on a links with an opening 80 at Royal County Down, leaving him in a tie for an Irish Open tie for last place.
The World No. 1 was a good sport, giving post round interviews to media and to Golf Channel's Tim Rosaforte, but it's hard not to listen and sense he's got any answers to his continued struggles in wind and firm conditions. With the next three majors at exposed, linksy courses, should McIlroy attack this deficiency in his game? Or should he think long term and stick to a swing and game which functions perfectly well on 95% of tournament venues?
Either way, reading Derek Lawrenson's story on the opening day struggles suggest McIlroy was trying to change his ball flight for the windy, rainy morning conditions.
McIlroy blamed his poor score on being caught in two minds on his iron shots.
‘I had a good warm-up on the range hitting knockdown shots with my irons but when I got out on to the course the wind didn’t seem so bad and so I tried to hit normal shots,’ he said. ‘But I didn’t get the ball close and left myself a lot of eight to 10ft putts for par and none of them went in.’
McIlroy was out of luck as well. The last place you wanted to be when a squalling shower hit was the forbidding par-three seventh, and McIlroy duly missed the small target by fully 40 yards, finishing in the middle of the sixth fairway.
The news was better for Rickie Fowler, playing in the same conditions, posting a strong 71 to leave him four back of leader Padraig Harrington.