CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Cruising along at 4 under par and within three strokes of the early lead, Rory McIlroy did some quick math as he stood on Quail Hollow’s 17th tee.
“I played 16 and hit 9-iron from 166 [yards] and I pretty much was pin high,” McIlroy said. “I had like 170 into the hole on 17 and thought, if the wind stayed the same, it would be a perfect 8-iron.”
But the wind didn’t stay the same and McIlroy’s “perfect 8-iron” dropped short, caromed off the rock wall in front of the green and found the water hazard. The miscue led to his first double bogey on Tour in a stroke-play event since Round 2 at the Masters.
Despite the late misstep, McIlroy opened with a 2-under 70. Tied for 30th, the world No. 1 was pleased with his play on Day 1, particularly his putting, which held him back last week at The Players.
“I did what I wanted to do. I took advantage of the par 5s and made birdie on a couple of the shorter par 4s,” said McIlroy, who needed just 27 putts on Thursday. “If you can limit your mistakes, there’s a few holes out here which are tough, you take your card and go.”