Rory McIlroy admitted he’s “fighting something” other than his golf game after salvaging a “messy” one-over 71 to begin his quest for a third PGA Championship title.
The Northern Irishman was playing with Justin Thomas and the on-course microphones picked up a conversation the pair had walking off the 10th tee in which he appeared to say he wasn’t feeling 100 per cent.
After the round he was asked to elaborate, saying: “I’m fighting something. I thought I got a great night’s sleep last night, and I look at my Whoop, and I was 22 per cent recovery, and my skin temperature was 3.5 degrees higher than what it’s been. I’m fighting something.
“But I actually feel better today than I felt yesterday, so plenty of water and a bit of rest, I’ll be fine.”
Despite feeling under the weather physically and hitting just two of 14 fairways, McIlroy kept himself within touching distance of the lead with a strong finish. The round threatened to get away from him when he made the turn at three-over, only to sink a 36-footer for par from off the green on the second (his 11th) to kickstart a comeback that included back-to-back birdies at his next two holes.
Asked how important his unlikely par save was, McIlroy added: “It was massive. I was sort of just hoping to get done in two and make bogey and go to the third hole at four-over par. When you walk off the green three-over and then you hit a tee shot like that, and all of a sudden, the pendulum swings or momentum goes the other way.
“All of a sudden you make a couple of birdies in a row, and you feel like you’re sort of right back in the tournament. So, yeah, it was massive. I don’t know how — depending on what happens over the next three days and what I go on to do, you know, I may look back at that shot as being the sort of turning point of the week.”
At the time of writing, McIlroy is five back of the lead held by Bryson DeChambeau, who hit a fellow player with a wayward drive at Oak Hill on day one.
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