Rory McIlroy dismisses U.S. Open gaffes as last major nears

Rory McIlroy fired a 65 in his first round since the U.S. Open.

rory mcilroy

With the Open Championship fast approaching, Rory McIlroy would prefer to accentuate the overall positive form of his golf game, rather than let a devastating U.S. Open collapse define his season, which does include two PGA Tour wins.

The no. 2 ranked player in the world fired an encouraging 65 in the opening round of the Genesis Scottish Open on Thursday — McIlroy's first PGA Tour round since missing two putts inside of four feet at Pinehurst No. 2. Instead of ending his 10-year major drought, the face of the PGA Tour allowed LIV Golf's Bryson DeChambeau to seize the day in unthinkable fashion.

At his pre-tournament press conference on Tuesday, McIlroy — who took a three week “reset” post-Pinehurst that included soul-searching through the streets of New York — detailed his plans to move forward from arguably the most devastating loss of his career.

“I got over it pretty quickly,” he said at the Renaissance Club. “The few days after it were pretty tough at times, but I feel like I've done a good job of thinking about it rationally and constructively and taking what I need from it and trying to learn from it. But like for the most part it was a great day.

“ … When I look back on that day, just like I look back on some of my toughest moments in my career, I'll learn a lot from it, and I'll hopefully put that to good use. It's something that's been a bit of a theme throughout my career. I've been able to take those tough moments and turn them into great things not very long after that.”

Of course, those are just words. McIlroy's strong showing on Thursday provided tangible and timely reassurance. The Northern Irishman sits at 5-under par, currently three back of leader Justin Thomas with the afternoon wave nearly wrapped.

McIlroy opened his Scottish Open with a birdie on the 10th. He struck the ball clean all day, and even chipped in for eagle on the par-5 second. (63 was attainable; he did miss two putts inside of six feet.)

“I'm not going to let three or four holes cloud my judgment in terms of how good I'm playing,” McIlroy said after his round. “I knew to play the golf that I did the whole way through June, it wasn't just the U.S. Open. I played well at the Canadian Open and at the Memorial before that even and PGA and Quail Hollow.

“My game has been in good shape and it was in good shape coming in here. It's just a matter of going out there and focusing on the task at hand and not letting your mind wander too much. I felt like I did a good job of that today.”

It's only one round, in a tune-up event, at a friendly course. Still, it's an “overall, good start.”

“It was a nice reintroduction to competitive golf and nice to be inside the ropes again for sure,” said the 26-time PGA Tour winner.

McIlroy, the defending champion, is the favorite to repeat at the Renaissance Club. He has the second-shortest odds for the 152nd Open Championship, which begins July 18 at Royal Troon Golf Club.

“Just familiarizing myself with links golf again,” McIlroy said. “First time I've played a links course since (the Open) last year, I guess. Getting back into how the wind feels. How the club feels through the turf, all that stuff. So that's why obviously I wanted to play this week. It's a good reintroduction to links golf, but obviously with a great opportunity to win another opportunity as well.”