Rory McIlroy felt he still had some adjusting to do after carding a three-under par opening round 67 at the European Masters in Switzerland.
The world number two is back in Europe after completing the PGA Tour season and admits it takes time to re-adapt to a European Tour course. McIlroy was making his fourth start in as many weeks, just 96 hours after winning the $15m FedEx Cup jackpot at the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
The four-time Major champion wants to make some ground in Europe and Asia over the final months of the year as he aims to get closer to world number one Brooks Koepka in the rankings. McIlroy made six birdies but also signed for three bogeys during an opening-round 67 at Crans-sur-Sierre in the Omega European Masters, leaving him four strokes back from joint leaders Matthias Schwab and Mike Lorenzo-Vera.
“I felt like I did okay,” McIlroy said. “It’s so different to the golf I’ve been playing the past few weeks. I’m just trying to adjust and get used to these greens again and how far the ball is going and what the ball is going to do out of the rough.
“I played well on the back nine, which was our front nine. To play that nine in three under I thought was good. I took advantage of a couple the shorter par fours on the front-nine but I made a couple of bogeys there as well.”
The Northern Irishman’s score was matched by playing partner Lee Westwood in round one. McIlroy has extra motivation this week as he bids to avenge losing at Crans-sur-Sierre in a playoff 11 years ago when chasing his first success on the European Tour. “I think if I have to play a tournament this week, I wouldn’t want to play anywhere else. It’s a beautiful place and I’m glad I’m back after all these years.
Hopefully I can play a bit of good golf over the next three days and give myself a chance,” he said of his return to the Swiss mountains. McIlroy is 7.00 to win the Omega European Masters.