Rory McIlroy finished on a high in the first round of the Irish Open after two late birdies and supported the potential move of the Open Championship to the Republic of Ireland; watch the Irish Open live this week on Sky Sports Golf
Last Updated: 07/09/23 6:10pm
Former champion Rory McIlroy conjured up two birdies in the last two holes to help him finish on a high in the first round of the Irish Open.
The 34-year-old, who won the title in 2016 at The K Club, admitted he did not have much time to practice beforehand and was hitting loose shots at the start of the day.
McIlroy carded an opening 69 to lie three shots off the early lead shared by Jordan Smith, Thomas Bjorn and Ross Fisher.
“It’s hard to say I’m rusty when I’ve only had a week off but I just haven’t had a chance to practice much,” McIlroy said.
“I managed my game well and scraped it around in three under which is nice and sort of gets me in the tournament.
“It’s more that I have not been able to hit a ton of balls.
“I’m hitting good shots but it’s all about knowing your patterns and where you’re missing it and where to aim and where not to aim and just being a little unsure over a couple of shots.”
McIlroy injured his lower back at the Tour Championship
McIlroy has not been on top form after injuring his lower back ahead of the Tour Championship where he was chasing consecutive FedExCup titles.
However, the four-time major champion insists it’s not an issue on the course.
“I’m hitting good shots but it’s all about knowing your patterns and where you’re missing it and where to aim and where not to aim and just being a little unsure over a couple of shots,” he said.
Ryder Cup vice captain Thomas Bjorn, who has not played competitively since June due to injuries, carded seven birdies and a bogey on the ninth.
“I said to my caddie this morning when we walked to the first tee, let’s try to see if we can break 90, it was that kind of day,” Bjorn said.
Polish golfer Adrian Meronk describes his disappointment of missing out on Ryder Cup selection and says he will try and turn the omission into motivation ahead of playing the Horizon Irish Open.
Adrian Meronk narrowly missed out on captain Luke Donald’s pick for Europe’s Ryder Cup team, with Ludvig Aberg, Tommy Fleetwood, Nicolai Hojgaard, Shane Lowry, Justin Rose and Sepp Straka completing the line-up.
The Pole is defending his Irish Open title and won two other DP World Tour events in the last 14 months.
Meronk matched McIlroy’s 69 but former Open champion Shane Lowry went one better with a 68.
The Open in Ireland would be ‘fantastic’
The R&A are looking into holding the Open Championship in the Republic of Ireland, which would be the first time the tournament is held outside of the UK, for the first time.
“I think they are seriously looking at it. I think it would be fantastic,” McIlroy said supporting the decision.
“There has to be a lot of stuff that makes sense, but having a course that’s so close to a major city, so close to a major airport, having a great golf course, I think it would be amazing.”
See McIlroy in action throughout the week at the Horizon Irish Open live on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins on Thursday from 1pm on Sky Sports Golf.
Watch the Ryder Cup this month exclusively live Sky Sports. Live coverage of the opening day begins on Friday September 29 from 6am on Sky Sports Golf. Stream the PGA Tour, Ryder Cup and more with NOW.