'Horror stuff': Golf world in disbelief over Rory McIlroy meltdown

Chris Young
·3-min read
Rory McIlroy hit the water twice on his way to an opening round seven over par 79 at the Players Championship, leaving fans stunned.. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)
Rory McIlroy hit the water twice on his way to an opening round seven over par 79 at the Players Championship, leaving fans stunned.. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

Rory McIlroy's defence of his Players Championship crown couldn't have gotten off to a worse start at Sawgrass, with the world No.11 firing two shots into the water on the 18th hole.

It had already been a somewhat miserable opening round for McIlroy, who arrived at the 18th having already shot a double bogey on the 10th and with a cloud of poor form hanging over his head after last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational.

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The 18th, which is flanked by a large water hazard on the left of the fairway, saw McIlroy fire two separate drives into the drink before finally lodging a quadruple-bogey.

His struggles off the tee didn't go unnoticed by fans, who were puzzled by how badly McIlroy's title defence had started.

McIlroy himself was flat after the lacklustre seven-over par first round of 79, but hopeful that he could find his swing again as the event wore on.

On social media, McIlroy's horror opening round was a major talking point.

BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter labelled McIlroy's opening round a 'dispiriting struggle'.

"A ragged eight with two penalty shots and a three putt on the 18th (his 9th) for Rory McIlroy who goes to the turn in 43 shots in first round of The Players Championship. It's a dispiriting struggle for the defending champion," he wrote.

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McIlroy was battling for form at last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational as well, finishing well out of contention after a final round score of 75.

After that, he said he needed a 'spark'.

“I don’t know what the word is or how to describe it, but just a little dejected,” McIlroy said.

“I need something, I need a spark, I need something and I just don’t seem to have it."

Sergio Garcia leads after round one of Players Championship

McIlroy was not alone in sending balls into the water.

England's Paul Casey took seven at the 17th, the famous three-par island hole at Sawgrass, after going into the drink both off the tee and from the drop zone.

That outcome saw Casey plunge from two under par to two over, but he steadied himself and finished with a one-over 73.

Sergio Garcia leads the Players Championship after the first round. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Sergio Garcia leads the Players Championship after the first round. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Henrik Stenson had an even worse day than his fellow European Ryder Cup stars, with an 85 from Sweden's former Open champion featuring two double bogeys and two triples and three balls in the water.

Sergio Garcia is the clubhouse leader after he fired a sparkling seven-under 65, with the Spaniard posting a pair of eagles in his round.

This tournament was called off after the first round last year because of COVID, with McIlroy the most recent champion in 2019 when he edged out Jim Furyk by one shot.

With AAP

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