After Day 1 of the 2014 Bridgestone Invitational, Rory McIlroy made it clear that he's not resting on his laurels after his recent Open Championship win but is looking forward to future victories.
"I've obviously had a bit of time to reflect after the Open and everything, but just decided I wanted to move on and move forward,'' McIlroy said Tuesday after a practice round at the Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, per ESPN.com's Bob Harig.
McIlroy, who shot a 69 Thursday to finish at one under par on the day, has three previous top-10 finishes at the Bridgestone. He got off to a strong start Thursday, Harig noted, but ran into trouble on the back nine.
In first event since winning the Open, Rory off to a nice start at Firestone, -2 thru 10 holes.— Bob Harig (@BobHarig) July 31, 2014
He birdied his fourth hole, one of four birdies on the day, but some poor greens play led to a double bogey on his second-to-last hole to end Day 1 tied for 14th.
McIlroy's ups and downs Thursday came after comments made by Tiger Woods during The Open Championship suggesting McIlroy's game could use more consistency.
"When he gets it going, he gets it going. When it gets going bad, it gets going real bad. It's one or the other," Woods said, according to Joe Posnanski of NBCSports.com. "He has his hot weeks, and he has his weeks where he's off. And that's just the nature of how he plays the game—it's no right way or wrong way."
McIlroy echoed those sentiments Tuesday in comments provided by GolfChannel.com's Jason Sobel, agreeing that he'd like to "make his bad weeks a little better."
If McIlroy can find that consistency over the next three days, he can still put himself in position to push for the title. Marc Leishman is currently in the lead at six under par on the day.
McIlroy's approach Thursday was more conservative than his normally aggressive style, but that may have caused his first bogey. He undershot his approach onto the green and wound up three-putting the ball in the hole. Playing a little more aggressively on Day 2 could help him avoid that situation again.
On his double bogey, McIlroy's approach landed him in the bunker, and he took four shots to get down. He'll need more consistent greens play throughout the Invitational to contend.
Per the European Tour's website, if McIlroy wins the Invitational, he can supplant Australian Adam Scott for the world No. 1 ranking as long as Scott finishes outside the top five.
Harig provided more musings from McIlroy on Tuesday regarding his future post-Open: "It's great to be introduced as the Open champion, but I need to move on from that and say I've got a lot more golf left this year, and I want to achieve a lot more," McIlroy said. "I'm enjoying being the Open champion, but that's not all I want to be this year. I want to do more.''
After Bridgestone, McIlroy has the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup to look forward to. But he undoubtedly has his sights set on accomplishing a feat that only Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Gene Sarazen, Gary Player and Ben Hogan can claim—the career Grand Slam, which he can achieve with a win at the 2015 Masters.
With his Open win, McIlroy has proved he's a world-class golfer in his own right, and any comparisons to Woods aren't fair to make at this stage. But he's certainly put himself on the same tier as Woods, both of whom, together with Nicklaus, are the only golfers to win three different legs of the Grand Slam before turning 26, per USA Today.
At a young age, McIlroy has figured out the key to continuing to improve—celebrate his achievements for a time but don't let them cloud his vision of what lies ahead. In the immediate future, that's a win at Firestone. In the more distant future, it's a Masters win and his career Grand Slam.