Rory McIlroy works on swing during first-round 71 at Open de France
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 01/07/16 6:11am
Rory McIlroy believes he can take positives from his eventful opening round at the Open de France.
The world No 4 mixed four birdies with as many bogeys during a level-par 71 at Le Golf National, home of the 2018 Ryder Cup, leaving him five strokes adrift of early pacesetter Lucas Bjerregaard.
McIlroy was making his first appearance since his early exit from the US Open, where a first major missed cut since 2013 prompted him to work on making significant changes to his swing.
The Irish Open champion arrived in Paris confident of bouncing back and getting his game in shape ahead of next month's Open, lives on Sky Sports, and the 27-year-old pleased was pleased with his early progress.
"I've been working on a few things and I have about four or five swing thoughts out there at the minute," McIlroy told Sky Sports 4. "When you consider how much I'm focusing on my golf swing and technique, I felt like I did OK today.
"I thought the conditions out there were pretty tricky, but there were a couple of mistakes and a couple of loose shots in there.
"I'm sort of half focusing on that and half focused on what I'm shooting out there, so it's a working progress, but I saw some good signs in there."
Beginning on the back nine, McIlroy posted a birdie-two at the 11th but missed from eight feet at the next and found the water at the par-four 13th on his way to a bogey-five.
After back-to-back birdies from the 14th, the Northern Irishman dropped a shot at the 16th and needed to hole a 12-footer to save par at the 18th after sending his tee shot in to the hazard.
A poor chip at the reachable third and a blemish at the following hole, after failing to get up-and-down from the sand, saw McIlroy slip back to level par.
McIlroy bounced back immediately by getting out of the sand and posting a fourth birdie of the day at the fifth, only to give the shot back after taking two attempts to get out of the seventh rough.
"I've hopefully got another three completed rounds here and all of next week before a few days leading up to the Thursday at the Open, so hopefully by then it (swing improvements) will all be bedded in," McIlroy added.
"The hardest thing has been focusing on my grip. I don't think I've changed my grip since maybe I was 12 years old.
"Gripping the club feels quite strange at the minute, but I just need to stay with it as in the bigger picture it's the right thing to do."
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