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SBNation.com – All Posts: Rory McIlroy’s 1 inch shot on 18 doesn’t ruin fantastic U.S. Open start


123rd U.S. Open Championship, Rory McIlroy
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

McIlroy has not won a major since 2014, but his opening round on Thursday has put the Northern Irishman in a great position heading into Friday.

Rory McIlroy had a terrific opening round at the U.S. Open, but he had a rather deflating finish.

He launched a massive drive at the Los Angeles Country Club’s 18th hole, which totaled 357 yards when it came to rest. But he tugged his second shot into some thick rough between the left greenside bunker and the putting surface.

McIlroy then whiffed. You read that correctly; he whiffed.

The USGA’s shot tracker indicated that McIlroy’s third on 18 totaled a single inch.

Rory McIlroy, Los Angeles, 123rd U.S. Open Championship
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES — Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts to a missed shot on the 18th hole during the first round of the 123rd U.S. Open Championship at The Los Angeles Country Club on June 15, 2023.

But his wedge clearly went right under the ball and through the whispy Bermuda rough, echoing a 20-handicapper instead of a four-time major champion.

McIlroy managed to get up and down from there, making an 11-footer for a bogey-five to finish his round. His dropped shot on 18 was his only bogey of the day as he carded a 5-under 65.

Despite finishing on a sour note, McIlroy has put himself in a terrific position heading into Friday.

He came out of the gates on fire, as he shot a 5-under par 30 on the opening nine. That tied his previous career best for a front nine in the opening round for a major. He previously carded a 30 at the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews, per Elias Sports Bureau. He would go on to finish tied for 8th.

At the first hole at LACC, a 594-yard par-5, McIlroy stepped up and launched a 382-yard drive right down the middle to begin his championship.

It was a harbinger of things to come.

He proceeded to birdie both the first and second holes—the first time McIlroy opened a major championship with consecutive birdies.

Then, at the difficult par-4 5th, McIlroy holed a 20-footer for birdie.

He gained more than two strokes on the field in putting, ranking 12th in strokes gained: putting among the U.S. Open field.

Two holes later, at the 258-yard par-3 7th, McIlroy fired a long iron to two feet. He tapped in another birdie.

The Northern Irishman put on a ball-striking clinic as he hit his first 15 greens in regulation during his opening round.

He begins his second round off the 10th tee at 8:24 a.m. local time.

Look for McIlroy to try and go low again on Friday in softer conditions due to the morning dew. He will begin his second round three strokes behind Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele, as they fired record-breaking 62s to begin their U.S. Opens.

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