Rory struggles on Madrid greens

By Brian Keogh

Rookie sensation Rory McIlroy went right off his greens as the putts failed to drop in the Madrid Open.

Playing in just his third event as a pro, the Holywood ace had to settle for a one over par 73 that featured 34 putts and no birdies.

Big-hitting Argentine Daniel Vancsik hit an eagle, six birdies and just one bogey in a 65 to lead by a shot on seven under par from Portugal's Jose-Felipe Lima.

But McIlroy was not too despondent afterwards, despite carding one bogey and 17 pars at Real Sociedad Hípica Española Club de Campo.

Looking on the bright side, McIlroy said: "I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens so I am happy enough, hopefully I can come out tomorrow morning and shoot something a bit better.

"With the wind this afternoon it was pretty tricky and the greens cut up a little bit as well, so overall it was alright, if I can go out and shoot something in the red tomorrow I’ll be pretty happy.

"I have been hitting the driver well all day which was difficult in the crosswinds, so if I can keep that up and do a bit better on the greens I’ll be alright."

McIlroy began by reeling off five straight pars but then spun a 70-yard wedge off the front of the sixth green and failed to save par from 12 feet.

At the par five 16th he missed from just six feet for birdie and while he blasted a massive drive down the 388 yard 18th, he couldn't convert his birdie chance.

With his tour card in his pocket thanks to his brilliant third place in last week's Alfred Dunhill Links, McIlroy arrived in Madrid targeting his first pro win.

And he confessed that the game is still the same, despite the fact that the pressure is off regarding his playing rights.

He said: "You are still playing the same game. I have to just go out with the same mindset and try to shoot as low a score as possible every day."

Peter Lawrie and Damien McGrane are the best of the Irish in joint 14th place after one under par 71s with Graeme McDowell nine off the pace in tied 55th after a 74.