Rory McIlroy joked he was lucky the course was so soft after he birdied two of his final four holes to card a 5-under 65 in the opening round of the PGA Tour's BMW Championship.
McIlroy, 34, started his round with six consecutive pars before he sank a 12ft birdie putt on the par-5 7th at Olympia Fields in Chicago.
The Northern Irishman drained a putt from similar distance at the very next hole to turn in 33 before taking advantage of the short par-4 10th.
He blasted a drive 336 yards, stuffed his approach to 9ft and duly rolled in the putt to move to 3-under.
The four-time major champion then notched four consecutive pars before picking up another stroke at the par-5 15th.
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McIlroy then holed a chip from 40ft to move to 4-under at No. 17 before nonchalantly rolling in a 5ft putt at the final hole to save par.
His chip from off the green at 17 was all the more impressive given he had to blast his approach below the trees from the thick rough.
It meant he carded a bogey-free opening round at the second leg of the 2023 FedEx Cup playoffs.
What was interesting is that McIlroy only hit three fairways.
"Coming up with a 65 is a bit of a bonus," McIlroy told a pool of reporters after his round.
Is he more pleased with playing efficient golf or more alarmed by the lack of fairways hit?
"Oh, no, way more pleased to play efficient golf," he said.
"I don't lose a lot of confidence with the driver. One bad day is not going to make me lose any sleep.
"But hopefully with the wind and the sun, the golf course starts to firm up a little bit and starts to play a little bit more like how I think it should play."
McIlroy is chasing the fourth FedEx Cup title of his career.
Previous FedEx Cup champions
- 2007 Tiger Woods
- 2008 Vijay Singh
- 2009 Tiger Woods
- 2010 Jim Furyk
- 2011 Bill Haas
- 2012 Brandt Snedeker
- 2013 Henrik Stenson
- 2014 Billy Horschel
- 2015 Jordan Spieth
- 2016 Rory McIlroy
- 2017 Justin Thomas
- 2018 Justin Rose
- 2019 Rory McIlroy
- 2020 Dustin Johnson
- 2021 Patrick Cantlay
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