Rory McIlroy shrugs off knee injury to post lowest round in 39 years at Memorial
Northern Irishman twists knee then fires in two eagles and three birdies on back nine on way to a 63
Whether it’s his health or his personal life, Rory McIlroy is not easily distracted when he’s on top of his game.
McIlroy made two eagles and three birdies on the back nine at Muirfield Village – along with a double bogey – on his way to a 9-under 63 and a three-shot lead Thursday after the opening round of the Memorial.
A week ago, McIlroy began his week at Wentworth by announcing he and tennis star Caroline Wozniacki had broken off their engagement. Then, he went out and won the BMW Championship for his strongest win in more than two years.
At the Memorial, McIlroy caught his spikes in the turf on his second shot at the seventh hole and felt pain the rest of the round, particularly when he had to put a little extra pop into tee shots or long irons. He was limping when he walked off the stage after talking about how he made five birdies and two eagles after hurting his knee.
It was the lowest opening round in 39 years at the Memorial.
“I don’t think it’s anything more than just being confident with my game,” McIlroy said. “I was expecting this to happen. I’ve been playing well. I’ve been posting good numbers, good rounds. And I knew my game was close. And honestly, I don’t think it’s anything to do with what’s happening off the golf course. It’s just I’ve been trending in the right direction, and it’s starting to all come together.”
Masters champion Bubba Watson, Chris Kirk and Paul Casey each had a 66 while playing in calmer and slightly softer morning conditions. Keegan Bradley was at 67, notable not because it was his best score at Muirfield Village but because it was his first time in his four years on the PGA Tour that he did not use a belly putter.
Adam Scott, who won at Colonial last week in his debut at No. 1 in the world, lost momentum with a shot into the water for double bogey on No. 9, and he missed some birdie and eagle chances on the back nine that would have allowed him to stay close with McIlroy. He settled for a 69.
McIlroy was more than nine shots better than the field average. His only scare came on the seventh hole when his spikes caught and applied a little more torque on his knee. McIlroy said he had never experienced that before, but he thought some ice and work in the fitness trailer should take care of it.
“The inside of it is sore, a little swollen,” McIlroy said. “Some treatment and I should be fine for the morning.”
The golf after that was simply spectacular.
It’s just one round, but considering it was McIlroy, it was an attention-getter. McIlroy is one of those players who can follow up a win with more great play. When he won the PGA Championship by eight shots in 2012, that was the start of three victories in four starts against the strongest fields of the year.