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McIlroy's round leaves him 9 shots off the pace at the Genesis Invitational

Padraig Harrington is further back in 105th position after his opening round of 75.

McIlroy shows his frustration.
McIlroy shows his frustration.
Image: Ryan Kang

RORY MCILROY SURVIVED an injury scare on his way to a 73 at the opening round of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club in California.

Tied for 85th position, McIlroy is nine shots off the pace, set by Sam Burns, who carded a seven-under total of 64. Padraig Harrington, the three-time major winner, is even further back, in a tie for 105th. Only six golfers in the 120-strong field shot higher rounds than the Dubliner’s 75.

For Harrington, it started comparatively well; a birdie on seven following six straight pars. A bogey on nine followed but by the time Harrington birded 11, he was in a decent position to strike.

Instead he produced a run of five bogeys in the closing seven holes leaving him on four over and with work to do to make the cut.

The same can be said for McIlroy, who got off to a perfect start, hitting a 320-yard drive on the first which was followed by a superb approach to the green where an eagle attempt ended just an inch wide of the hole. He tapped in for birdie and looked to be on his way.

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But no. Bogies on the third and fifth blotted his card – although his uphill approach to the eighth from rough terrain was nothing short of magnificent. A second birdie followed. He was even par through nine.

A bogey at the 10th came next with another bogey at the 15th leaving him with a two-over 73. McIlroy appeared to have hurt his hand on the ninth – after a shot from the rough – but he insisted afterwards that he was fine.

“It just jammed in there,” he said. “Just more of a shock, it’s totally fine. For about maybe 20 seconds afterwards, it was just a little sore.

“[The course] is tricky. The wind was up a touch, greens were getting a little firm. I think it was one of those days where it’s sort of just as easy to shoot two or three under as it is to shoot two or three over.”

Burns, the leader, was hot on the greens, as he holed three birdies or eagles of more than 15 feet. Having played in the final group at the Farmers Insurance Open – the tournament Patrick Reed won recently – the American has been in form.

But he faces stiff competition, not least from Matt Fitzpatrick and Max Homa, who are tied for second on five under – Fitzpatrick relying on his putter to get him out of trouble on more than one occasion. Further back, tied for 12th is Dustin Johnson, who birdied three of his last five holes to get to three under for the round.

About the author:

Garry Doyle

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