Rory McIlroy insisted he finds the tougher putts easier to read after he rolled from some early mistakes to open with a two under 68 in the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
The Co Down man had two front nine double bogeys as well as a three putt bogey at the first. But he also had seven birdies — three in a row on the front nine and four in a row on the back, to open with a two under 68 that leaves him tied for seventh, just two strokes behind Hideki Matsuyama, Kevin Chappell and FedEx Cup leader Dustin Johnson.
"I am just happy that the score at the end of the day is under par," McIlroy said after mixing seven birdies with an opening bogey and back to back double bogeys. Scores
"It would be great for next week," McIlroy joked in reference to the Ryder Cup. "As I said to [caddie] JP out there, I am mixing a lot of bad with a lot bad.
"So if I can cut out the mistakes, seven birdies around this golf course is pretty good and as you can see, once I get a couple of birdies, I get some confidence and momentum."
McIlroy three putted the first for bogey, then birdied three in a row from the third before racking up consecutive double bogey sixes at the seventh (three putt) and eighth (water with approach followed by a poor pitch) to slip to two over.
But he caught fire on the back nine, rolling in four birdies in a row at the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th. For the 10 holes from the eighth to the 18th, he was six under threes.
After 28 putts and nine single putts, he watched highlights of his birdies and said: "It's a work in progress. If I get on a run like this, I get some confidence and I can see the line.
"I said to to JP out there as well, I am more comfortable with the breaking putts than the straight ones — I had a couple today that were dead straight and am having a hard time on those ones.
"But if you give me a five to 10 footer with loads of break, I feel like I am okay with it. I'll go and putt now and figure it out."
McIlroy described his round as "an adventure" adding that when he is playing with a lot of confidence he can make three birdies in a row "and then four but when it doesn't quite go my way I feel like I compound that with other mistakes.
"I was joking with my caddie that this sort of golf would be good next week at the Ryder Cup: make seven birdies and you are going to do okay. But I have to eradicate the mistakes over the next three days if I am to have a chance to win this thing.
"I made two double bogeys out there and I could have let my head drop. But i have always got that Boston victory to look back on - one minute you are propping up the field and then, all of a sudden, four days later you are lifting the trophy.
"Four round tournaments are long. I would have been happy after the two doubles to shoot even par but I am two under and I am actually coming off disappointed I didn't birdie the last, the par five. There are a few things to tidy up but I am happy with how I played and I am right in there."
Costly finish for Power in Ohio
Web.com Tour — Seamus Power dropped four shots in his six holes to post a one over 71 in the opening round of the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship in Ohio.
Already guaranteed a PGA Tour card but bidding to improve his status and give himself a better chance of more starts when the 2016-17 season starts in three weeks, the West Waterford man appeared to have three three-putts late in the day at Ohio State University's Scarlet Course in Columbus.
He ended the day tied for 81st on one over par, seven shots behind South Korea's Whee Kim, whose six under 65 gave him a one shot lead over Kevin Tway and Gonzalo Fernandez Castaño of Spain.