Four days after celebrating a third consecutive Ryder Cup victory with his European teammates, and one day after being named 2014 PGA Tour Player of the Year, McIlroy carded a 1-over 73 in the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. The Ulsterman made only one birdie during his round at Carnoustie, and admitted that he had trouble returning to action after an emotional week at Gleneagles.
"A little flat, if I'm honest," said McIlroy, who sits nine shots behind leader Oliver Wilson. "Obviously with the crowds we were playing in front of last week, to come back here it seemed a little quiet out there."
McIlroy is playing this week alongside his father, Gerry, and is one of four European Ryder Cuppers teeing it up across the three-course rotation of Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and St. Andrews.
"It was good fun to get to play with my dad," he said. "Obviously I wish I had played a little better and made a few more birdies, but hopefully that will happen across the next couple of days."
McIlroy countered his lone birdie of the day with bogeys on Nos. 6 and 16, hitting only nine of 18 greens in regulation. He will now head to Kingsbarns for the second round, with the final 36 holes staged on the Old Course.
McIlroy wasn't the only player who was slow getting out of the gates after a successful Ryder Cup. Martin Kaymer, who won this event in 2010, opened with a 2-over 74 at Carnoustie to sit 10 shots off the early pace.