Rory McIlroy didn’t even watch his tee shot land. He didn’t need to. A 300-yard drive down the right side of the fairway. McIlroy’s first stroke at Colonial Country Club couldn’t have been much better.
His next could have. As could have several of the other 39 that followed on his front nine.
Nick Faldo, one of the analysts for the CBS broadcast, wondered why one bad shot or one bad hole deserves another. And another. And another.
That 6-over 41 on the front nine on Sunday at the Charles Schwab Challenge took McIlroy from near the top of the leaderboard to around the middle in about two hours. He started the day tied for ninth, three strokes off the lead, and ended tied for 32nd, nine shots off the pace, not the finish the world’s top-ranked player was looking for in the PGA Tour’s first tournament in three months due to its coronavirus hiatus.
“I don’t know. I’m only guessing on this – he’s such a gutsy player,” Faldo said when McIlroy reached the 13th green. “But why does this happen, and when it all goes wrong, it’s almost like he gets so frustrated, it’s like, I can’t accept it. It seems like looking from the outside, he doesn’t have a Plan B to switch to, just to find a way to get around it. Just maybe too much frustration going on.”
“Rory’s under the weather, so we’re not going to speculate right now,” Faldo added.
McIlroy’s second shot of the day was as right as the first one was straight.
“Oh, don’t, don’t do that,” he said as his ball sailed into the trees before coming to rest next to a chain-link fence. From there, he punched out, but the ball caught the cart path and trickled down past the green. He chipped his fourth shot on the par-5 to within about 5 feet, only to two-putt from there for a bogey.
“I got off to a really bad start,” McIlroy said after his round. “Hit a loose second shot on the first hole up to the right and then sort of messed around and took bogey there, so not the ideal start.”
On 4 and 5, McIlroy landed in bunkers and bogeyed. Same thing on 9. On the par-4 7, McIlroy hooked his tee shot into the trees, punched out to the right side of the fairway, hit over the green and eventually took a double.
McIlroy did shoot 2-under on the back, including a birdie on 18.
“But you know, sort of played all the way to the end, shot a decent back nine,” he said. “I was a couple under on the back. But front nine, I just got into a rut and played a bad run of holes, and obviously that put me out of the tournament.”