WILMINGTON, Del. – Rory McIlroy was determined to look optimistically at his opening 68 at this BMW Championship.
Sailing along at 6 under Thursday at Wilmington Country Club, McIlroy tried to hit a soft, cutting 5-iron on the watery 15th hole but instead double-crossed it, yanking his shot left into the pond. After wedging onto the green, he three-putted from 25 feet for triple bogey. His momentum stalled, McIlroy made par on the last three holes to sit four shots off the lead.
So, what would linger this evening, he was asked: The stellar 17 holes he played, or the one swing he couldn’t quite execute?
“Probably the former,” he said. “I played much better today than I did last week, so I have to take the positives. I still played a decent round of golf; 3 under out there this afternoon was pretty good. So I’ve just got to reset tonight and forget about that swing on 15 and go again tomorrow.”
Indeed, McIlroy’s play was a stark improvement from last week when he missed just his second cut in the past year at the FedEx St. Jude Championship. Rather than join the rest of his family in a cabin in upstate New York, where he wouldn’t be able to play and practice, McIlroy and caddie Harry Diamond instead opted to head here early for some prep. They’ve been on property at Wilmington Country Club every day since last Saturday, logging long hours on the range and staying competitively sharp with games and targets.
Coming off a post-Open break in which he didn’t touch a club for nearly two weeks, a rusty McIlroy would have preferred to start the playoffs with the forgiving Wilmington CC over the penal layout at TPC Southwind. Almost immediately he realized this new Tour venue – a spacious, 7,500-yard track that allows him to lean on driver – would fit his skill set.
“It was much better,” he said of his early play. “Pleased with my game. Disappointed with how I finished, but encouraged with the rest of it.”