Rory McIlroy sizzles at Scottish Open in first round since U.S. Open heartbreak

Rory McIlroy looked like one of the best players in the world on Thursday at the Genesis Scottish Open, his first round since his heartbreaking collapse at last month’s U.S. Open.

The Northern Irishman sizzled around the Renaissance Club, the Scottish seaside links where he won last year. McIlroy signed for a 5-under 65, and walked off the golf course trailing German Maximilian Kieffer and Haotong Li of China by one.

“My game has been feeling pretty good in practice over the last ten or so days since I picked the club back up. Obviously, the last time I played, I played well. I didn’t get the result I wanted, but I still have a lot of confidence in my game,” McIlroy said.

“I went out there today, shot a solid score. There are a couple I would have liked to hole coming in and be a few shots lower, but overall, it was a great start to the tournament. Yeah, I sort of picked up where I left off.”

McIlroy’s 65 is the lowest opening-round score by a defending Scottish Open champion, according to golf statistician guru Justin Ray. He made five birdies and holed a chip-in eagle at the par-5 3rd, but two bogies prevented him from going any lower than 5-under.

“Sort of missed it in a good spot on 3, but sort of the nice thing about this course is even when you miss it on the short side, it seems like you always have some sort of shot to get it close,” McIlroy said of his eagle.

“And there, I just needed to hit a little bump, let it pitch on the fringe, run down to the hole, and I judged it nicely.”

McIlroy looked solid for most of the day in Scotland, and he has put himself in a tremendous position to perhaps win for the third time in 2024 and become the first back-to-back winner of the Genesis Scottish Open.

The benign wind conditions helped his cause, but everyone else had to play this course, too. And yet, McIlroy played better than almost every other player, as he sits in a tie for fifth after day one.

“The wind, from being a four-club wind last year on Sunday, it was about a one-club wind out there [on Thursday]. There was a little bit of breeze but nothing too testing, and the golf course is pretty receptive,” McIlroy explained.

“We’ve had a lot of rain here over the last few days, and you know, it’s really as gettable as I’ve seen it. You need to go out there and post a decent number to get yourself right in the tournament.”

McIlroy did just that.

Now the question is, can he redeem his tough finish at Pinehurst No. 2 with a bounce-back victory in Scotland?

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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