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Dublin: 0 °C Thursday 17 January, 2019

'This was definitely the round that got me back into the Championship'

Rory McIlroy happy with how his Open bid is progressing.

Rory McIlroy acknowledges the crowd at the 18th.
Rory McIlroy acknowledges the crowd at the 18th.
Image: Richard Sellers/PA Images

YOU CAN’T WIN a golf tournament on the opening day, but you certainly can lose one.

And Rory McIlroy looked pretty close to doing just that when he opened with five bogeys on his first six holes yesterday afternoon.

However, the Northern Irishman following up a brilliant back nine yesterday with a round of 68 today to move into red figures on the leaderboard for the first time at -1.

The four-time Major winner was very pleased with his day’s work:

“I set myself a target of being in a better position today than I was yesterday,” he told the assembled media at Royal Birkdale.

I finished the (first) round one-over par and I wanted to be at least level par or under par, if possible, for the Championship.

“I’ve been able to achieve the goal that I set myself. They’re both huge rounds for very different reasons. But this was definitely the round that got me back into the championship.”

Of course, many people are attributing the former world number one’s comeback to his caddie — JP Fitzgerald — who asked him yesterday:

“You’re Rory McIlroy, what the fuck are you doing?”

“He does do it quite often,” McIlroy said.

“Whether it penetrates my head is a different thing. He’s great. He tries to keep me as positive as he possibly can.

“We’ve been together for nine years now and he knows me pretty well. And he knows what to say out there and what not to say. And he definitely said the right thing yesterday when I needed it.”

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Steve O'Rourke

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