Another day, another double bogey.
That appears to be the pattern for Rory McIlroy, who birdied his last two holes and three of his last five to shoot a one under 70 and trail Japan tour regular Jang Ik-jae by just three shots after the first round of the Kolon Korea Open.
For a man who has done little right this year, the score was a bonus. But a double bogey five at the 221-yard 13th, where he blocked his tee shot into a lake, means he has now made a double bogey or worse in his last eight rounds.
In fact, he has made a double bogey or worse in 17 of the last 23 tournament rounds.
This one was forgiveable considering he hasn’t played for a month and spent much of the intervening time hunkered down with lawyers or played just a few friendly holes with his pals or the likes of former US President Bill Clinton.
Not only that, his superb approach to four feet at the 17th and two putt birdie at the last meant he finished the day tied for 12th.
“I just wasn’t very comfortable with the tee shot,” McIlroy old the OneAsia Tour’s website of his double at the 221-yard 13th. “I took a long time to get settled over it and then just didn’t make a very good swing.
“It was tough, some of the pin positions out there today were brutal, just cut on slopes and very hard to get close to them and when you did get close to them you left yourself very tricky putts.
“I felt I was a little rusty after the four weeks off, but I battled back nicely and to end up under par for the day wasn’t too bad.”
Asked if he would be aggressive in round two, McIlroy said: “It all depends where they put the pins again. You definitely don’t want to miss them on the wrong side.
“You don’t want to short side yourself. There’s not many low scores out there … if I plot my way along and pick up a few birdies here and there I won’t be too far away.”
Jang Ik-jae, 40, fired a flawless four-under-par 67 to lead by one at Woo Jeong Hills Country Club near Cheonan, south of Seoul, where McIlroy is reportedly being paid more than €1m to tee it up
Sharing second place were Koreans Kang Sung-hoon — who won the CJ Invitational on the domestic tour last week — Yoon Jung-ho and Han Min-kyu.
They were joined by American rookie Eric Mina, winner of OneAsia’s Q-School held in California in January, who led the first round of last week’s Nanshan China Masters before drifting off the pace.
McIlroy bogeyed the par-three third, birdied the par-five fifth and then followed that double bogey at the 13th a birdie at the 424-yard 14th before hitting a stunning approach to four feet at the 488-yard 17th to get back to level par.
The world No 6 then found the fringe in two at the 561-yard 18th and two-putted for a closing birdie four to finish in the red.