Rory McIlroy enjoys encouraging start to the year with 67 at Torrey Pines
World No 2 cards seven birdies in first start since November to sit just one off the lead after day one
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 23/01/20 11:52pm
Rory McIlroy was happy with both his game and his mental preparation as he enjoyed an excellent first round of the year at the Farmers Insurance Open.
McIlroy took advantage of the easier North Course at Torrey Pines to fire a five-under 67 which was good enough to end the day just one stroke off the lead.
Showing little signs of rust having not played competitive golf since the DP World Tour Championship in November, McIlroy birdied his opening hole and went on to make six more while dropping one shot on each nine.
The 30-year-old was particularly happy with his accuracy off the tee, and he is hoping for more of the same as he chases the victory that would take him back to the top of the world rankings for the first time since September 2015.
"It's nice to play the North Course first because the South is a little bit tougher," said McIlroy, who finished tied for fifth in his debut in the event last year. "The North is more generous off the tee and you can get away with a little bit more.
"A 67 is a nice start. I drove the ball really well, and if I can drive it like that for the rest of this week, and the rest of this year, then I'll be pretty happy.
"My iron play was okay, I hit a couple of loose ones, but my wedge play was nice although I hit a couple of clunky chip shots, one on each nine. But apart from that it was good. I putted okay and I holed out well, maybe my speed on the greens was not quite what I wanted it to be.
"But overall, for my first round back this year, it was pretty good. I've had a couple of good weeks in Florida to practice and prepare, and I made a little pit stop in Vegas on my way here to watch the Conor McGregor fight at the weekend.
"I had some time on Sunday to try to dial in with the new equipment, which has been good, and the weather has been perfect here and great for getting some practice in.
"I don't want to call this a practice week, but I'm having four competitive rounds to see where my game is on a couple of very good golf courses."
McIlroy revealed earlier this week that he had been continuing to devote time to his mental preparation, insisting he would play with a more "carefree" attitude this season as he bids to capture a first major title since 2014.
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"It's not as if I wasn't able to get myself in those places mentally previously, I just didn't know how I was doing it," he added. "Now I feel like I've put a structure in place and I have a routine with certain mental exercises.
"That's all helped to get me in the right place before I got out and play, which is huge for me. It's not like I didn't have the ability before, but I just feel like I can replicate it a bit more nowadays."