Rory McIlroy Shoots Even Par in Inconsistent 1st Round of 2020 PGA Championship

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 6, 2020

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, watches his tee shot on the 12th hole during the first round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at TPC Harding Park Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Rory McIlroy is in a good position after Thursday's opening round at the 2020 PGA Championship

A two-time winner of this tournament, McIlroy carded an even-par 70. It was his best first-round score at a major tournament since the 2019 U.S. Open (68). 

Consistency has been a problem for McIlroy since the PGA Tour season resumed in June. His best finish over the past five tournaments was 11th at the Travelers Championship in late June, but he's otherwise finished outside the top 30 every time during this stretch. 

"I feel like I've played pretty well. I just haven't got a lot out of my game," McIlroy told reporters Wednesday. "Haven't scored as well as I was doing before the lockdown. Wasn't really efficient, or haven't been efficient as I was back then. Short game hasn't quite been as sharp."

Starting his day on the back nine, McIlroy looked like he was going to be in trouble early. He was two-over par through five holes thanks to three consecutive bogeys from No. 12 through 14. 

McIlroy's short game was particularly problematic during that three-hole stretch. He needed seven putts in total and missed one from seven feet on No. 12. 

After he got over those initial miscues, McIlroy settled in to have an otherwise solid day. His best stretch came starting on No. 16, when he began a run of three birdies in four holes that dropped his score to one-under par. 

McIlroy would hold steady there for the next five holes. The Ireland native did give a shot back on No. 6 with his fourth bogey of the round. 

Even though that would prevent him from finishing under par for the day, McIlroy did have success on one of the most difficult holes at TPC Harding Park. 

PGA Championship @PGAChampionship

Only 18% of the field has hit the green in regulation at the big, 237-yard par three 8th hole today... https://t.co/2x2SWWYyiZ

McIlroy's first shot on No. 8 landed on the green, 36 feet from the hole. He was able to two-putt for par and keep his score at even par heading into the final hole. 

Overall, the first round was a mixed bag for McIlroy. His driving accuracy was erratic, as he hit only six of 14 fairways, but he made up for it by hitting 14 of 18 greens in regulation.

Rory McIlroy Tracker @RoryTrackerPGA

Rollercoaster of a round. He’s still in it but has to go low tomorrow. E(70) with 4 birdies & 4 bogeys. He’s 5 shots off the lead. FIR: 6/14 (1/7 last 9 holes) GIR: 14/18 Putts: 32 #PGAChampionship

If McIlroy finds more consistency off the tee and with the putter, he can make a significant move up the leaderboard during the second round. He will have time to practice with a 4:58 p.m. ET tee time Friday.