Friday, 04 March 2016
Rory McIlroy  (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy (Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy was content with his form on the greens as he played a competitive round with a left-below-right putting grip for the first time in eight years at the World Golf Championships - Cadillac Championship.

The World Number Three has gone back to the technique he used in his rookie season on The European Tour in 2008 and had 33 blows with the putter in an opening 71 at Trump National Doral.

That performance had him five shots off the first-round lead shared by Marcus Fraser and Scott Piercy as he played in the marquee group of the day with Jason Day and Jordan Spieth.

Much had been made of the Northern Irishman's alteration to his grip and, while he admitted his speed was not perfect on Thursday, he declared himself happy with the progress made. 

It felt good. I've putted enough with it over the last few days, but in the past as well, that it does feel pretty comfortable - Rory McIlroy

"Because the right hand is really not there, with the longer putts, I do feel like I have to hit them harder. I don't know if that's a combination of me thinking the greens are a little bit faster than what they are and just having to adjust for that a little bit. So that's why you see me leave a lot of putts short out there.

"I guess it's to be expected. It's the first day competitively with a bit of a new grip for the putting."

McIlroy was three under for the day as he stood on the ninth tee, his last, but put his tee-shot in the water for a double-bogey and is looking for a quick reaction in round two.

"It is always disappointing to end the way I did," he said. "I feel like I'm struggling a little bit in right-to-left winds just trying to hold the ball up. I'm actually overdoing it a little bit, cutting it back a little too much back into the wind.

"I just need to get out there tomorrow and try and pick up those shots quickly again and try to start from there."

All eyes were on McIlroy, Day and Speith as the top three players in the Official World Golf Ranking were paired together but McIlroy insists that it is not a distraction.

"I'm really trying to concentrate on myself," he said. "I've got a hard enough time thinking about myself at the minute. I'm just trying to concentrate on that and go from there."

Spieth added: "It was fine. It's just like it is any time that we're playing together, whether it's just two of us or all three. We're playing our own game but we enjoy the company of each other.

"We were actually able to feed off each other for a while on a very difficult golf course through the first 12 holes or so, and then each of us had a bit of a slip towards the end. But we'll come back tomorrow and get off to a good start."

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2WATSON, BubbaUSA18-11
T3WILLETT, DannyENG18-10
6WALKER, JimmyUSA18-8

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