NO BRIDE and only a few birdies. Two eagles, however, helped put a smile back on Rory McIlroy’s face the day after breaking off his engagement to tennis player Caroline Wozniacki.
In the circumstances, the 25-year-old’s four-under-par 68 in the first round of the BMW Championship was a remarkable effort, his card being lit up by a 2 at the seventh and a 3 at the long 12th.
“I can’t remember the last time I had two eagles in the one round,” he admitted afterwards, having received a warm welcome on the first tee earlier as he set out for his first outing since splitting from Wozniacki.
“At times, it was very difficult,” added McIlroy.
“But I’m just happy to be trying to put my head fully back into golf. It’s the best round I’ve had here for a while, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
“I’m obviously six shots behind, but will try to close that deficit as much as possible tomorrow and see what happens.”
He revealed that he’d taken measures to shut himself out from the outside world away from the course. “I’ve not switched on my phone for a few days and have given my laptop away,” he said. “It’s like living in the 70s, which is nice.”
McIlroy went on to defend his decision to make the announcement on the eve of such a high-profile event. “I guess it was that much of it [his relationship with Wozniacki] was played out in the media that it was probably the best way to do it,” he commented.
“It was just a natural thing to do I guess.
“Look, everyone goes through it. It’s part of life and it’s tough. It’s the way it is. People that have come up to me have been very supportive and it’s been nice.”
His first eagle was a pitching wedge from 130 yards that landed off the green but spun back down a slope while the second was with a 5-iron that almost produced a career-first albatross. “It was a good day,” he declared. “This is a place I’ve notoriously struggled on in the past, but it was good to shoot something in the 60s.”
Late in the day, Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello came in with a 65 – 15 shots better than defending champion Matteo Manassero, who ran up a quadruple-bogey 9 at the 17th.
After a poor start, it was a better day for US Open champion Justin Rose, who recovered from dropping shots at the first three holes to card a 70.