Rory McIlroy needed a storming finish of three consecutive birdies to haul himself back into the tournament at the Egyptian Open presented by SODIC after a disappointing first 15 holes saw him look more likely to miss the cut than win the tournament.
The World Number Nine, who has been making subtle changes to his swing since his unforgettable Ryder Cup debut, admitted that his front nine of one over par 37 at the JW Marriott Mirage City Golf Club in Cairo was “probably the worst nine holes I have played all year” before his cavalier finish saw him post a one under par 71.
McIlroy had scored poorly at up until he reached the 16th hole, carding four bogeys, two birdies and 11 pars.
“The first nine holes were probably the worst nine holes I have played all year,” said the 21 year-old, who lies six shots behind leader Alessandro Tadini of Italy after round one.
“I hit two fairways and three greens which tells the story really – I think I had 14 putts on the front nine for one over and got up and down from a flowerbed on the ninth so you are probably getting the picture there.
“I spent two hours on the range this morning working on the changes I have been trying make to my swing but I didn’t quite trust it on the course. I am working on my take-away and the way I am setting it on the way back. The club was getting inside on the way back so my left arm was getting away from me and then I on the way down I was coming over the plane so everything was going left.
“Because I was starting it left I was reluctant to release the club so every shot that I missed today I missed right but it was just one of those things.
“It is always the case when you are trying to make a change that the last place it comes good is on the golf course but I stuck with it on the back nine, played a bit better and made three nice birdies to finish which was great. I’m happy to shoot one under as it could have been worse.
“I still feel that I can go out tomorrow morning, carry on the way I finished today, make a few birdies and get right back in it.”
McIlroy will have to go low to get right back in it after Tadini set a blistering pace with a fine seven under par 65 to lead by two from Switzerland’s Julien Clément, Scotland’s George Murray and Dutchman Floris de Vries at this the penultimate event of the European Challenge Tour season.