AKRON, Ohio – Asked to sum up his first competitive round with friend Harry Diamond on the bag, a beaming Rory McIlroy didn’t hesitate.
“Awesome,” he said.
McIlroy became the center of attention early in the week amid news that he had parted ways with caddie J.P. Fitzgerald after nine years together. In stepped Diamond, who served as McIlroy’s best man at his wedding earlier this year and who will also be on the bag next week at the PGA Championship.
While there were a couple of hiccups along the way, McIlroy’s 3-under 67 left him two shots off the lead and with few complaints.
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“Obviously it’s been nine years since I’ve had anyone else on my bag, so even just hearing a different voice, it’s a little different,” McIlroy said. “But I thought we did well out there, sort of consulted each other when we needed to. I sort of did all my own stuff when I felt like I was good, and then whatever decisions I made, whether they were good or bad, it was on me. Didn’t have anyone to get frustrated at other than myself.”
McIlroy led the field during the opening round in strokes-gained off the tee, and at one point he held a share of the lead at 4 under. While he three-putted his final hole for bogey and planned to work on his wedge accuracy after the round, the Ulsterman was rather pleased with his first competitive round at Firestone Country Club since his win three years ago.
“It could have been a really low score, but I played OK. I don’t feel like I played really good,” McIlroy said. “It’s there. Just a matter of repeatedly doing that and being a little bit more consistent.”