PGA Championship: After a ‘fantastic start’ at Southern Hills, Rory McIlroy vows to stay focused

PGA Championship

PGA Championship: After a fantastic opening round at the 104th PGA Championship at Southern Hills sparked his chances of winning a first major since 2014, Rory McIlroy has admitted he must resist ‘getting ahead of himself.’

McIlroy shot a five-under-par 65 in Tulsa, overcoming a late hiccup to finish with a closing birdie that gave him the clubhouse lead.

McIlroy told Sky Sports, “I came in here thinking my game was in good shape.” “So all you have to do now is go out there and execute the shots you know you can.”

“Today I did that very well and I just need to try to replicate that tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday and not get ahead of myself, but it was a great start.”

McIlroy’s effort broke a run of poor first-round performances at majors, with the Northern Irishman shooting a cumulative 35-over par in the first round of majors since his most recent major victory, the 2014 PGA Championship.

It was a continuation of McIlroy’s form from his most recent round at a major when he finished second behind Scottie Scheffler after a final-day push at The Masters in April.

McIlroy stated, “I’ve been playing well going in here.” “I’ve been in excellent shape.” Obviously, I learned a lot from that last round at Augusta, and I performed well at the Wells Fargo and in the practise rounds earlier this week.

“I think when your game is feeling like that, it’s just a matter of going out there and really sticking to your game-plan, executing as well as you possibly can, and just sort of staying in your own little world. I did that really well today. It was nice to get off to that good start and keep it going.”

‘It’s wonderful to end with birdie’

Following a birdie to get to six-under at the fifth (his 14th after teeing off at the 10th), McIlroy dropped strokes at the difficult par-three sixth and eighth holes to tie for first place.

He regained his calm to set up a birdie opportunity on the ninth hole and made a 19-foot putt to reclaim the lead in the rankings.

“It was so nice because to get to six-under for the day and then give a couple back on the par threes, without feeling like I did that much wrong,” McIlroy said.

“It’s that sort of golf course, you don’t have to do much wrong to make a bogey around here.

“So, to get one of those shots back and finish with a birdie, it’s always nice.”

McIlroy noted that playing with Tiger Woods (+4) and Jordan Spieth (+2), who also battled on Thursday, helped him relax.

“Once the draw came out on Tuesday, I was excited to play in a group like that,” McIlroy said. “I always enjoy playing with Tiger and Jordan.

“It’s a pretty comfortable group for all of us, we’ve all played together a lot, and we all know each other pretty well.”

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