Ring-rusty McIlroy back down to earth

Rory Mcllroy expects to remain in touch Thursday at the start of the British Open thanks to a new-found maturity which has been added to his arsenal after a shaky start.

The 22-year old US Open champion has been hailed as golf’s future after he broke long-standing records when he claimed his first Major.

Mcllroy however found things getting harder at Royal St. George’s, the first time he played competitive golf after his Congressional victory, with two bogeys in the first three holes before getting his bearing with a one-over-par 71. It may be an unrespectable score but given the windswept field’s difficult conditions, it can still be considered respectable.

Mcllroy was however able to hold his game after a nightmare start, saying he had learned a lesson from the 63 he posted during the first round of last year’s Open which was then followed by an 80.

“It was a great experience last year at St. Andrews shooting 80 in the second round. I learned a lot from it. And yeah, it’s building that experience up and learning from your mistakes,” McIlroy said.

“That’s been the biggest improvement for me this year.”

Mcllroy was six shots off the lead when he finished the day but he was confident he would be kept firmly on the hunt by his 71 right into the weekend.

“Anywhere around even par was a good start. On a day like this, I know better than most people, you can shoot a high number and put yourself out of the golf tournament. So it was nice to go out and shoot a decent score.”

A rousing reception welcomed Mcllroy, who was playing alongside rising American golfer Rickie Fowler and South African veteran Ernie Els. He got into trouble soon enough on the 444-yard with a par-four. He got his second shot 40 feet past the pin.

The pressure on the Irishman piled up, first from Fowler who drained a monster putt at the back of the green’s near-identical lie. The younger’s effort was however not matched by Mcllroy who misreads the lines and over-hit his putt by 10 feet.

Mcllroy’s tee shot landed on the right of the fairway on the 417-yard par-four second, sending his second skidding 30 feet past the pin. He tried to calm his nerves with a putt but it only left him with a par and a fleeting respite.

The next three holes however allayed fears of a Masters-style meltdown as Mcllroy was able to keep himself steady with a trio of pars. If not for a missed 10-foot birdie putt, he would have finished with a level par.