Rory McIlroy after DISMAL start at The Players? "Wish I could use my old driver"

Rory McIlroy says he wishes he could use his old TaylorMade driver after he made a poor start to The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

Ben Smith's picture
Thu, 9 Mar 2023
Rory McIlroy after DISMAL start at The Players? "Wish I could use my old driver"

Rory McIlroy says he 'wishes' he could use his TaylorMade driver from last year after he made a dismal start to The Players Championship

McIlroy carded an opening round of 4-over 76 at TPC Sawgrass playing in a star-studded group that included Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler

That leaves him a mammoth 12 shots behind round-one leader Chad Ramey, who fired out the blocks with a flawless 64. 

Report: R1 Players Championship

The 2019 Players Champion began the day in terrible fashion with a double bogey and struggled to gain any momentum on Thursday. 

McIlroy said he has been having difficulty with his driver. Curiously, he only switched to the TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus a few weeks ago. 

It was after the first round of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club hosted by Tiger Woods that the four-time major champ made the switch. 

McIlroy stressed that there was 'a lot of user error in there as well' but added: "It doesn't look good on me, doesn't look good on TaylorMade." 

He said:

"Yeah, obviously I went to that new driver in Riviera, and it's just not -- yeah.
"Look, I wish I could use my driver from last year, but I can't just because of -- 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.
"Yeah, I mean, I'm obviously trying my best, trying to get something that's as close to what I had last year. Yeah, just struggled a little bit off the tee the last couple weeks."

So is he trying to find another driver that works?

He continued: 

"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."

McIlroy added: 

"Well, they were testing drivers at Riviera, but I just didn't even want to take the chance.
"I just was not comfortable knowing that it could feel -- doesn't look good on me, doesn't look good on TaylorMade."

What happened? 

McIlroy began his day on the back nine and made a disastrous start by carding a double bogey at No. 10. 

He found the rough with his tee shot then missed the green left. From there, his pitch found the greenside bunker and ultimately walked off the green with a six. 

McIlroy bounced back immediately with a birdie at the par-5 11th and made three consecutive pars before dropping another shot at 15. 

He produced a remarkable shot at 16 when his tee shot found the pine straw right of the fairway. 

McIlroy remarkably found the gap and carried the water but from there could only three-putt for a par. 

He navigated the tough stretch of 16, 17 and 18 in level par to turn in two over. 

But his back nine began poorly when he failed to salvage a par from the sand after missing the green left. 

McIlroy dropped another shot at the par-3 third hole when again he failed to scramble from the sand. 

There was finally something to smile about for McIlroy as he stuffed a wedge to three feet to get one stroke back at the fourth. 

Four more consecutive pars followed before McIlroy began the day just as he started by dropping another shot at No. 9. 

McIlroy's playing partners had different fortunes. Scheffler opened with a 4-under 68 whilst Rahm shot a level par 72. 

When asked why Rahm couldn't get any momentum going, he said there was no margin for error, adding:

"Well it felt like a slap in the face on a day that I hit a lot of putts and just kept burning edges to one that looked like it was going in and, you know, it's just, it's just what it is. It's golf."

Scheffler said: 

"I feel like today was a bit of a battle. I did a good job of hitting some good shots on the front nine, and I didn't make a ton of putts, and then it was good -- sorry, my front nine, the back nine. Then we made the turn, I started seeing some putts go in and definitely happy with how I finished." 

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