Rory McIlroy again frustrated by putting after 72 at Irish Open
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 06/07/17 9:34pm
Rory McIlroy vowed to remain patient as he looks to find some form on the greens and avoid his fourth missed cut in five years at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
McIlroy failed to take advantage of ideal scoring conditions on the opening day at Portstewart as he toiled to a level-par 72, while 105 of the 156-man field managed to break par.
The defending champion was playing alongside world No 2 Hideki Matsuyama and Spanish sensation Jon Rahm, who both upstaged the tournament host as they belied their lack of links golf experience and made excellent starts.
Rahm made six birdies and an eagle in a 65 which left him just a shot behind overnight leaders Benjamin Hebert and Daniel Im, while Matsuyama hit back from a bogey at the first with six birdies, including one at the last to cap a 67.
McIlroy was happy with his game from tee to green, but he could not hide his frustration at another faltering performance with the flat-stick having used three putters in four rounds at the Travelers Championship a fortnight ago.
"I don't think we're going to get this course much easier," said McIlroy, who missed the cut in the event three times in a row before storming to a memorable two-shot win with a spectacular finish at The K Club last year.
"There were so many scoring opportunities out there with loads of wedges into the par-fours, and the par-fives were all very reachable. I gave myself a few chances but I just didn't quite get anything going, just couldn't get any momentum. I was trying my hardest out there, but it was one of those days where I just couldn't quite get it going.
"You want to go out there and try to defend the title that you won last year. Tee-to-green, it's okay, it's right there and right where it needs to be. I just need to focus on what I need to do on the greens and I feel like I'm on the right track, it's just a matter of being patient with it.
"I'm pretty frustrated, I felt like the course was out there to shoot a really low score, especially when you're playing with Jon and Hideki and they are shooting seven-under and five-under, I felt like I was going backwards just being level par.
"Hopefully I can get out there in the morning and make some birdies. You can be aggressive on this golf course obviously, put it in the right spot, give yourself chances and that's really it, and try to make as many as you can.
"It was pretty benign all day, there was maybe one-club wind out there at most. So if we get a morning like this tomorrow, and hopefully see a few putts drop. I know a low one is out there for me. It's just a matter of going and getting it."