AUGUSTA, Ga. – Rory McIlroy didn’t give himself any chance to catch Dustin Johnson on Sunday at Augusta National after starting the day eight shots off the lead.
By the eighth hole that outlook had changed, however slightly.
“When I birdied the eighth hole and I got to 11 [under], I saw DJ had dropped to 15 [under], and I thought, maybe there’s a chance,” McIlroy said. “But then the wind sort of got up as we hit the turn, and it just was hard to make birdies. Dustin is just playing such solid golf. It was probably wishful thinking on my part.”
McIlroy made three birdies on the front, but he bogeyed the par-4 10th hole and carded just one more birdie. Following a first-round 75, McIlroy played the final three days in 14 under par to tie for fifth place for his sixth top-10 finish in the only major championship that he hasn’t won.
Poor opening rounds have been an issue for McIlroy the last two years at the Masters after he started the 2019 tournament with a 73. On both occasions he was under par for each round to finish the week.
“I just got a little careful, a little tentative, a little guidey, just didn’t trust my swing, didn’t commit to what I was doing, this course more than any other can make you do that at times,” McIlroy said of his opening round. “I just didn’t quite have it.”