UK: 18+ USA: 21+ | Begambleaware.org | T&Cs apply | Play Responsibly
Rory Mcilroy will face a battle to make the cut at the 2023 Players Championship after a disastrous opening round of 76 has left him tied for 118th on the leaderboard after day one in Florida. The annual event, which is played at TPC Sawgrass, is one of the most prestigious tournaments on the PGA Tour calendar and Mcilroy will be furious as to how his week has started.
After coming close to winning last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Northern Irishman had the chance this week to reclaim the top spot in golf’s world rankings. However, after his performance on day one, the chances of this happening now look remote.
At the other end of the leaderboard, American Chad Ramey has the outright lead after shooting an eight-under-par round of 64 on Thursday. Trailing him by just one shot, however, is Collin Morikawa who finished his day with a score of 65. The 26-year-old has won’t on the PGA Tour since winning the British Open in 2021 but he has given himself a good chance this week after his opening round.
As always, Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm enjoyed under-par rounds and both men should be in contention over the weekend providing they perform well again on Friday.
Driver issues for Mcilroy
A double bogey on his first hole of the day should have been a warning sign of things to come for Mcilroy and he never really recovered. The biggest issue he faced throughout his opening round was the performance of his driver. Speaking about his troubles off the tee after his round he said:
“I wish I could use my driver from last year, but I can’t just because – you use a driver for so long, and it starts to get a little too — basically it just wouldn’t pass the test.
These driver heads are so finicky, it’s hard to get one exactly the same. I’m obviously trying my best, trying to get something that’s as close to what I had last year. Just struggled a little bit off the tee the last couple weeks.
This one is as close as it’s been. Yeah, there’s obviously a part of it that’s the user, as well. It’s quite a lot of user error in there, as well.”
Rory doing some much-needed work on the range after an opening round 76 at the Players where he struggled severely with his driver pic.twitter.com/ASwvBgq4Z6
— Rory McIlroy Tracker 🍀 (@RMTracker) March 9, 2023
Morikawa back to his best
Collin Morikawa was tipped for big things when he burst onto the PGA Tour back in 2019. He proved that he could live up to these lofty expectations too when he won his first major just a year later at the PGA Championship. He once again enjoyed major success in 2021 when he won the British Open but his game has taken a dip ever since.
However, the world number ten believes that he is now hitting the ball as well as he ever has done. Speaking to reporters after his opening effort, he said:
“I would say for the most part, all 2023, I’m back to playing how I used to. I’m trying to enjoy it and I would say that after what I found earlier this week, my swing hasn’t looked this good probably since 2019.
I’ve played very well in 2020 and 2021, but position-wise I just love where I’m at right now and just freeing everything up, just allowing me to look up at my target and hit the ball, and hopefully, it goes where I want it.”