Rory McIlroy upbeat on chances of recovering from poor start at Dunhill Links
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 05/10/17 7:22pm
Rory McIlroy insisted he can still get into contention at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship despite making a disappointing start at St Andrews.
McIlroy arrived full of confidence following his runner-up finish at last week's British Masters supported by Sky Sports, when he fired 64, 63 over the weekend only to be upstaged by Paul Dunne at Close House.
Dunne was again in fine form at St Andrews as he carded a flawless 67, but McIlroy struggled to keep mistakes off his card over the Old Course as two late birdies salvaged a one-over 73.
The world No 6 made an encouraging start with a birdie at the first, but he ran up a scrappy double-bogey six at the next after running into bunker trouble, and then missed chances to repair the damage as he found the greens and the stiff breeze difficult to judge.
He dropped another shot at the eighth before getting it back at nine, and he blotted his card again with bogeys at the 11th and 13th which dropped him near the foot of the field on three over par.
McIlroy made a good up-and-down from the rear of the 14th green to claw one shot back, and a mammoth 350-yard drive to within 10 feet of the pin at the last set up a good chance for a closing eagle, but his putt was never on line and he had to settle for birdie.
"Momentum is a big thing here. Obviously you're waiting around a lot and you don't really have any rhythm or anything," said McIlroy, who is playing in his final event of 2017 before he takes a break of over three months from competitive golf.
"I think it's easier when you get off to a good start. When you get off to a slow start, you're waiting a lot and that can be quite difficult. It was okay. But I feel like I've shot bad scores here and I've got off to slow starts here in the past and been able to recover and get myself back into the tournament. I feel like I can do the same again.
"It was tricky enough out there. I feel like I could have shot a few better but it was tough because some of the greens out there are quite exposed and you're sort of in two minds when you're reading a putt, whether to think that the wind is going to affect it or not. Some putts were affected by the wind out there and some putts weren't.
"But it was okay. I was two under for the last five to make it more respectable and hopefully I can play better at Carnoustie. I don't think it will be quite as windy tomorrow, so we're going to get Carnoustie maybe a little easier than the guys got it today, which is nice.
"I played there on Tuesday and it's actually quite soft. The greens are very good, they are running very nicely, so it actually could be a good opportunity for some of the guys to score well."
McIlroy also revealed he had never driven it so close to the pin on 18 before, and he added: "I've hit it over the green before when it's been howling downwind. It was a good opportunity to get back to level par."