Sunday, 20 May, 2018

Rory McIlroy off to solid start at Quail Hollow

Putting woes leave Tiger Woods six behind first-round leader John Peterson Courtesy Reuters
Domingo Copeland | 04 May, 2018, 13:55

The next goal in Hatton's meteoric rise is surely to win a tournament in America - where the world's 20th-ranked player has been based for the past three months - and the 27-year- old made a good start in this event, finishing with two successive birdies, including one at the 17th where he holed a monster 50ft putt.

The Holywood ace shocked traditionalists on the eve of the Wells Fargo Championship when he said "the Masters has now become THE biggest golf tournament in the world".

"For me it's the most special tournament that we play, and it's the one everyone desperately wants to win, but even if I was going for my first major, it's still tough to win".

Tiger Woods has just teed off and is level par for his opening three holes.

Now, McIlroy will be looking for second win of the season at the PGA Wells Fargo Championship, which is being held at Quail Hollow, a course he has twice tasted victory on in his PGA Tour career.

English pair Paul Casey and Ross Fisher are on two under, with compatriot Tommy Fleetwood on one over.

McIlroy mixed five birdies with two bogeys on the eve of his 29th birthday and looked set to finish the day a shot adrift of the leading pack, until Peterson sunk back-to-back eagles late in his round.

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Following a bogey on 18, his approach to the par 4 second hole got to within ten feet, with McIlroy sinking the putt for his fourth birdie.

A bogey on the sixth threatened to undo his good work before another sublime chip from the edge of the green gave him another birdie on the seventh. "Justine goes, 'You can't read that?' I'm like, 'No, can you?'" "It's weird. The greens are slow". They're springy and their firm. That's not a combination you would expect.

"I chipped in, there were a couple of balls that hit trees and came back into the fairway, hit it up into the azaleas and got away with it".

Still in the early stages of his return from debilitating back trouble, Woods said the more he plays, the better he feels.

"I was trying to immerse myself in anything but golf at that moment".

"I would have taken 68 before I went out there, " McIlroy said. "Whether it's the simple act of walking and playing, recovery from day-to-day, playing week-to-week". I'm sure the Ryder Cup captains were paying attention to how certain pairings played in the two very different formats, possibly getting a read on where to place their eventual qualifiers in the hard and stressful rotation later this year.

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