It’s not often that Rory McIlroy gets a momentum bump from a pro-am round with Wednesdays generally not being a productive scoring day for him.
‘My stroke average in pro-ams is probably about 75.7,’ he acknowledged.
But this Wednesday at the BMW Championship was different. McIlroy played his final nine holes of the pro-am at Aronimink in eight-under 27, including a stretch of seven consecutive birdies.
McIlroy was still on fire a day later. He played his first 14 holes in Thursday’s first round in nine under, reeling off six straight birdies at one point. By the time he got to his 15th hole, the par-four 6th, he was thinking 59.
A couple of late bogeys dashed those dreams, but his eight-under 62 still was good enough to share the first-round lead with Tiger Woods.
And that 23-hole stretch over two days in which he shot 17 under?
‘Oh, that’s pretty good,’ McIlroy said.
Two weeks ago, McIlroy sat out the FedExCup playoffs opener in order to work on a few things. Last week, he tied for 12th, shooting 67-66 in his middle two rounds at TPC Boston. On Thursday, he was in full Rory mode, hitting 11 of 14 fairways, 16 of 18 greens and averaging 24 feet, three inches proximity to the pin – the second-best average of the day.
‘It’s a golf course that just seems to fit my eye,’ McIlroy said. ‘I like the greens. You can work the ball in off the slopes. You got to hit it pretty wild to start missing fairways. So if you get your ball in the short stuff, you can get it going.’
McIlroy’s 62 was his lowest round of the year by two strokes and is just one off his career low. But through 14 holes, it looked like he was headed for the record books. Asked if he was disappointed not to have shot 59, McIlroy could only smile.
No matter how things turn out the rest of the week, though, perhaps McIlroy will take a new approach toward pro-ams.
‘Maybe I should try a little harder on Wednesdays,’ he said. ‘It seemed to work this time.’