It's safe to say that of all the ways Rory McIlroy could have played his opening holes at Royal St. George's in his first performance since winning the U.S. Open, going 2-over after the first three holes wasn't exactly the plan.
Still, after a three-putt on the first and a missed short putt on the third, McIlroy found himself 2-over and reeling while still within the sound of the dulcet tones of Ivor Robson, the first-tee starter. Would McIlroy's hopes for a repeat performance vanish into the gray English skies before most of the golf world was even awake?
Nope. McIlroy settled down and went 1-under over the remaining 15 holes, carding two birdies against one more bogey. So how did he prevent an Augusta-esque meltdown early in the round?
"You say to yourself, there are 69 holes left in the golf tournament," McIlroy said afterward. "It's nice to get the bogeys out of the way early." He stressed patience, always a virtue at an Open Championship, and it appeared to pay off.
"I'm hitting the ball as good as I ever have," he said. "I'm controlling the trajectory, and that's what you need in windy conditions."
He's got a long way to go to get anywhere close to another major. But at least a poor start didn't take him out of it three holes in.