Rory McIlroy frustrated by late errors in opening round at Doral
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 04/03/16 2:00pm
Rory McIlroy was encouraged by a promising display with a new putting technique at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, although was left frustrated by a disappointing finish to his round.
The world No 3 made a bright start in his first appearance since switching to the "crosshanded" method he hasn't used competitively in many years, but missed a number of birdie chances over the closing stretch and double-bogeyed the last on his way to a one-under 71.
McIlroy changed his technique after struggling on the greens during the early part of the season and missing the cut at last week's Honda Classic, with the four-time major champion vowing to stick with the method regardless of this week's result at Doral.
Putting with his left hand below his right on the grip, McIlroy mixed five birdies with two bogeys and one double-bogey on the Blue Monster, but admitted he should have carded a much lower opening round.
"I felt like I played pretty solid actually," McIlroy said. "I made a couple of mistakes, but apart from that I felt ball-striking wise it was a good day.
"My speed wasn't too good on the greens and I was leaving a lot of putts short. I guess it was to be expected as it's the first day competitively with a bit of a new grip, but I felt like it was pretty good.
"It's always disappointing to end the way I did. I just need to get out there tomorrow and try and pick up those shots quickly again and try to start from there."
Beginning on the back nine, McIlroy left his eagle putt at the 10th inches short to join Spieth and Day in opening a two-putt birdie.
Another two-putt from distance at the next was followed by a gain at the par-five 12th, before the world 3 recovered from dropping a stroke after missing the 13th green to hole a seven-foot birdie two holes later.
After taking two attempts from 10 feet at 16, McIlroy rolled in from 14 feet at the next but reached the turn two under after a poor chip from the 18th fringe and a missed par-save.
McIlroy kicked off his second nine by pitching to four feet from the rough and posting a fifth birdie of the day, although missed good opportunities to close the gap on early leader Scott Piercy over the next two holes.
A two-putt from 40 feet at the short fourth was followed by two more close-range pars over five and six, before McIlroy failed to convert a 12-footer at the seventh after an impressive approach.
The Northern Irishman bit his putter in frustration after misjudging a lengthy eagle opportunity at the eighth and carding a three-putt par, before finding the water off the ninth tee and running up a double-bogey.
"I was giving myself plenty of chances hitting a few fairways and a lot of greens," McIlroy added. "Probably took a couple of my opportunities, but not a whole lot.
"The good stuff's in there, it's just a matter of not hitting shots like the one I hit on nine. I just over did it. Maybe leaned on it a little bit too much and maybe being a little bit overly aggressive after making a par on the eighth hole.
"So it's all these little things. It's tiny margins and when you're playing well and you're sharp and you're really on your game, you don't make those mistakes. Right now, I'm struggling with that part of the game and I just need to tidy it up."
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