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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Rory McIlroy’s first tee shot in his first visit to the Arizona desert delivered an early-morning eye-opener.
“I was really surprised how far my tee shot went on 10 to get into the desert there,” he said a few hours after starting his first round on the back nine at 8 a.m. local time with the temperature about 50 degrees. “It was like a 340 run-out. I had no idea I could hit 340 in that temperature.”
McIlroy went on to post a 1-under 70 in his first trip to the Waste Management Phoenix Open but not before running into some early trouble.
“From there, didn’t really have shot, hit it into the front bunker and then I just made a mess of it from there, thinned the bunker shot into the next bunker and didn’t get that one up-and-down.
“On the next hit it behind a couple of trees and had to chip out and hit a really good wedge shot in and just missed the putt.”
McIlroy got it going after that double-bogey, bogey start.
“It was a good battle back. Being 3-over through 2 isn’t ideal, especially on this golf course where you sort of need to make birdies,” he said.
McIlroy made some of those birdies on 13, 15 and 16. After making the turn, he birdied two more holes, the second and third, then strung together four straight pars before a bogey on 8. A par on 9 closed out his round.
There was only a smattering of fans on 16 to witness his chip-in from 32 feet for a two. Nonetheless, McIlroy said he was glad to see some fans back on the PGA Tour.
“Yeah, it was nice to play in front of people today. Just to get clapped for some good shots and good putts and get encouragement from some greens to tees, it was really nice to see people out here.”
McIlroy, along with playing partners Daniel Berger and Xander Schauffele, should have perfect weather for Friday’s second round when they tee off No. 1 at 12:20 p.m. local time.
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