PONTE VEDRA BEACh, Fla. -- If Sunday's 62 to win the Quail Hollow Championship was the first round of the rest of Rory McIlroy's life, Thursday at the Players Championship was the second.
Sunday's round was "magic." Thursday round?
"Not so magical," McIlroy said.
Instead, it was fairly pedestrian. Two birdies. Three bogeys. An opening score of 73.
"I found it quite tough to get anything going," McIlroy said outside the scorer's hut. "I had a lot of nice putts that couldn't go in."
Still, McIlroy didn't despair. Greeted by birthday wishes on every hole -- he turned 21 on Tuesday -- and congratulations for his first PGA Tour win, the Ulsterman succeeded in replicating at least the mindset that propelled him in Charlotte. Prior to that round, McIlroy said he was intent on focusing less on a score, and more on just playing. The end result Thursday was 11 shots higher, but McIlroy still considered it progress.
"I felt like I could just go out and play," he said. "It was nice to get that win last week. Hopefully I can get some more, and tomorrrow, if I can go out and shoot something in the mid 60s, I'm right in there."
*-- Sam Weinman *