Rory McIlroy stumbles to 76 in Players pairing of top 3 golfers

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH (Fla.) Rory McIlroyHe went from thick grass and a double bogey on the Players Championships first hole. He finished his round the same as Thursday. There was also some pedestrian golf at TPC Sawgrass.

It added up to a score of 76, his highest score in just under a year. This made him more optimistic about sticking around for the weekend rather than returning to No. Number 1 in the world.

He said, If you dont hit it in fairway here, then youre going be struggling.

McIlroy, No. McIlroy, No. 3 in the world, played Jon Rahm Scottie Scheffler, a 1-2-3 team of the top players in world ranking, with multiple scenarios for who leaves Sawgrass as No. 1.

Scheffler kept his end of the bargain by making three birdies on his last four holes to secure a 68. Rahm was unable to hold on to the No. Despite being out of the top 10, Rahm was still No.1 last week. He three-putted from the fringe to par on the par-5 ninth hole, and was forced to settle for a 71.

McIlroy was 12 shots behind with a score of 63. Chad RameyWhen he was done.

Scheffler stated, This is one place where you hit the ball really well and get the ball in position. There are a lot of birdies. It can quickly go the other way if you miss fairways or get out of position.

McIlroy was not concerned about McIlroy missing the fairway. McIlroy was not off the mark on the 10th hole. He even missed the green in the right spot, left of a putting surface with an right pin. But his chip was hot, and he ran through the green and into the bunker, which led to the double-bogey.

The ninth hole was his final hole. He missed the green in thick rough to the right of the mounds. This wasnt the worst spot as the pin was all the other way to the left. The chip was hot again and didnt stop until it was inside a bunker. McIlroy was able to escape the sand with two shots on his way to Bogey.

Other issues were also present, including a three-putt par on 16th. McIlroy had three tournaments ago to change drivers at Riviera for the Genesis Invitational because he was concerned that the clubs face might be too thin to allow trampoline effect.

The PGA Tour conducts occasional tests to measure the impact of the ball bouncing off the face. One of these was at Riviera.

McIlroy stated, I didnt even want the chance. I was uncomfortable knowing it could fail. It doesnt suit TaylorMade.

McIlroy used the same driver since Riviera last year, when he won four times and was relegated to No. McIlroy was ranked No. 1 in the world.

McIlroy stated that he wishes he could use his driver from last year but that it was not allowed because it wouldnt pass the test. Its difficult to find a driver head that is exactly the same as these driver heads. Im doing my best and trying to get the same thing as last year. The last couple of weeks I struggled a little with the tee.

Although he only hit six fairways at Sawgrass he didnt blame it all on trying to get the club right.

Its quite an amount of user error in there, he stated.

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