McIlroy opens with 65, doesn’t speak to media

McIlroy opens with 65, doesn’t speak to media

LOS ANGELES — Rory McIlroy‘s first shot of the 2023 U.S. Open traveled 380 yards off the first tee — the longest drive of the day on that hole. One of McIlroy’s last three shots, however, traveled only two inches after he more or less missed the ball on a chip just off the 18th green. What transpired in between resulted in a 5-under 65 that included a front-nine 30, the lowest nine-hole score of his major championship career.

McIlroy began the first round Thursday by making a short birdie on the par-5 first hole. The 2011 U.S. Open champion proceeded to make four more birdies on the front side, including on the long par-3 seventh hole (which was played at 258 yards), where McIlroy hit it to two feet.

The back nine at the Los Angeles Country Club was a different story. McIlroy couldn’t continue his hot start and instead grinded his way through the tough holes by making five straight pars. It was not until the short par-3 15th hole, where he hit a spinning wedge to about 10 feet and drained the putt, that he was able to add another birdie to his tally to go to 6-under.

The finishing stretch proved tough for McIlroy, who was part of the afternoon wave, which scored higher than the morning groups. On 16, his approach shot missed short of the green, and a frustrated McIlroy held his head up to the sky in disappointment. He was able to only make par. The 17th hole was a similar story. After a 357-yard drive, he left himself 32 feet for birdie as he slumped his way to tap in another par.

By the time McIlroy hit another 300-plus-yard drive on the 18th hole, he was trying to hang on to his 6-under score. The finishing hole did not let him. His iron shot missed just left of the green, landing in the thick Bermuda rough around the bunkers. He tried to finesse his short-sided recovery shot, and the ball barely moved from the tough lie.

After backing off his second shot from the rough, McIlroy tried again and got it on the surface. The 11-foot comebacker for bogey was no small feat, but the third-ranked player in the world sank it to finish at 5-under.

Despite being tied for fifth place after the round, McIlroy did not speak to the media. It is the second time this week he has not met with reporters. While his reason is unknown, it comes in the wake of the PGA Tour’s announcement of a partnership between the tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which bankrolls the LIV Golf Tour.

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