Rory McIlroy’s moderate start to the new season continued in the first round of the Honda Classic on the US PGA Tour after his level par score left him six shots behind the overnight leader, Camilo Villegas.
It wasn’t a bad start to the defence of the title he won last year but at his best McIlroy would feel disappointed after a round in which two bogeys were offset by two birdies. Tiger Woods had a similar round and he also stands at even par.
McIlroy (pictured) has recently signed a lucrative deal to use Nike clubs. With the new equipment in his bag he missed the cut in his only other stroke play event this season and failed to progress from the first round of the Accenture Match Play. McIlroy found just half the fairways on Thursday and driving seems to be the problem.
The Irish player has said it is not the new clubs that is the cause of his moderate run of form but finding his rhythm from the tee. His greens in regulation percentage was better than his driving accuracy but he could still only convert two birdie opportunities from several opportunities.
Sir Nick Faldo and McIlroy have got into something of a spat on the issue of the equipment change. McIlroy suggested that Faldo’s game was more analytical and less natural than his own but it worked for Faldo as he won six major championships.
However, Faldo won his first major after he had turned 30 and McIlroy has already won two and he is just 23 years of age. In fact McIlroy is the sixth youngest multiple major champion of all time and he looks set to beat Faldo’s tally of six majors.
McIlroy has a more immediate concern ahead of the second round of the Honda Classic and that is making the cut. He is just one shot better than the projected mark and if he goes over par on Friday we may not be seeing the defending champion over the weekend.