Rory McIlroy: Grades for Rory's First Round Performance
As a part of the second-to-last group, Rory McIlroy and his group were the recipients of much of the television coverage and focus. It didn't hurt of course that he was paired with two other wonderful players in Bubba Watson and Angel Cabrera.
McIlroy was outplayed by his partners for most of the day, but turned it on the final few holes as he made a few clutch putts.
He finished one-under (71) on the day and is just four shots off the lead held by Lee Westwood (-5).
Driving Accuracy: C
With six of 14 fairways hit successfully, Rory McIlroy was average in driving accuracy. Of course that includes the 18th hole where he officially missed the fairway, yet put himself in perfect position right on the fringe.
That drive left McIlroy right where he needed to be and he hit a nice approach shot to the green before sinking his birdie putt.
Of course driving accuracy should also include yardage, and on the day, McIlroy averaged just 277 yards per drive. On such a long course (7,435 yards) driving distance becomes that much more important.
McIlroy is capable of hitting the ball a little deeper, and to get more makeable shots, it is absolutely necessary for Rory to up his distance.
Greens in Regulation: B
With 12 of 18 fairways hit, McIlroy was accurate and gave himself a good chance to fire in pars or better on most holes. That is all a golfer can really ask of himself.
That said, McIlroy would love to have given himself more opportunities for tap-ins rather than many of the long putts he faced for birdies and pars.
Short Game: B+
On the day McIlroy had only one sand save opportunity and converted it successfully. Other than that, one can look to his deep putt from off the green on 18 which he converted for evidence of his success in the short game.
Of course, any player would love to be putting every hole for birdie and never go beyond a par on any hole. But many of McIlroy's putts on the day were from a significant amount of distance.
Therefore his 29 putts on the day is more than acceptable. In fact, he had one double-bogey and only two bogeys. Otherwise he filled the card with 10 pars and five birdies.
In other words he made a lot key putts.
After starting his day with a disappointing double-bogey and consistently struggling to hit the ball exactly where he wanted, Rory McIlroy ended his day quite impressively.
He fought, he battled, he made putts and he kept out the distractions of playing alongside two other legitimate contenders and the media after his hard-to-swallow fourth round performance at Augusta a year ago.
McIlroy certainly didn't play his best golf, but he could have a played a whole lot worse. If he continues to compete and play with the composure and grit that he did Thursday, a top-10 finish in this Masters is far from unrealistic.