Rory McIlroy unloads on bunker in fit of U.S. Open rage, still shoots 67

Rory McIlroy swipes at the sand during Thursday's first round of the U.S. Open.

USGA

Don’t let one post-shot reaction fool you — Rory McIlroy had a fantastic round to open the 2022 U.S. Open on Thursday in Brookline, Mass.

McIlroy started on the back nine at The Country Club and made the turn in two under, and he was still at the number when he arrived to the drivable par-4 5th, his 14th hole of the day. McIlroy lost his drive out to the right and it landed in an awkward spot, in gnarly grass, just outside of the bunker. With a bad lie in the thick stuff and his feet well below him, McIlroy hacked out but only advanced the ball a few yards. It dropped into the bunker in front of him. He wasn’t thrilled.

McIlroy drew back his club and — in a move out of Sergio Garcia’s playbook — took two mighty swipes at the sand.

We’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again: This is what U.S. Opens do to the best players in the world.

The broadcast team went easy on McIlroy.

“That’s just darn near impossible to figure out how that ball is going to come out,” said analyst Justin Leonard.

The good news for McIlroy? He splashed out to 20 feet and made a huge par save to remain bogey-less on the day. He pumped his fist as the ball rolled into the cup, which kept him at two under and one back of the early lead.

“That’s a massive putt for Rory McIlroy,” Leonard said. “The frustration of the bad lie, to make par, well done.”

The par save was big for momentum, too. McIlroy birdied the next two holes before he failed to get up and down on 9 to make his only bogey of the day. He signed for a three-under 67, and after one round at the U.S. Open he’s tied for the early clubhouse lead.

McIlroy, who enters this week coming off a win at the RBC Canadian Open, has four major titles in his career, although none since 2014. His only U.S. Open win came in 2011 at Congressional, which was his first major victory. McIlroy’s second round begins at 1:25 p.m. ET on Friday.

Josh Berhow

Golf.com Editor

Josh Berhow is the managing editor at GOLF.com. The Minnesota native graduated with a journalism degree from Minnesota State University in Mankato. You can reach him at joshua_berhow@golf.com.