News & ToursAugust 13, 2015

Rory McIlroy is more worried about the first tee than his ankle at Whistling Straits

HAVEN, Wis. -- All eyes were on Rory McIlroy and his return to competitive golf on Thursday at Whistling Straits. The No. 1 player in the world did not disappoint.

True, his one-under 71 has McIlroy five shots behind Dustin Johnson entering Friday play. But in tough scoring conditions, it's a number that the scorecard doesn't do justice.

"I think anything under par this afternoon was a decent score," said McIlroy after his round at the PGA Championship. "I set myself a target going into the back nine. I knew there would be a few chances, so I thought trying to shoot something under 70 was realistic.

"But as I said, anything under par is a good score."

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As you would expect, attention quickly turned to the state of his ankle, and how it held up over the undulating Whistling Straits terrain.

"I felt it was good...Obviously I was pretty nervous on the first tee. It was just getting back there, it was nice that opening tee shot out of the way. It wasn't the best of starts, but to hit those two shots on the second hole and make birdie, that sort of settled me down and I could get into the round."

When further pressed on his health -- he did cause a brief scare when falling on the fifth hole -- McIlroy assured he was OK.

"It's fine, just as it was walking 18 and practicing. The same, no different.

"As you can see out there, the way I'm hitting the ball and the way I'm getting around the golf course, I have full confidence in it. It doesn't bother me one bit."

As McIlroy advanced in his post-round presser, the subject of first-hole jitters continued to emerge. McIlroy ended his interview on the matter.

"It's not the crowd. It's more just being a little bit anxious coming back and seeing how my game's going to react whenever I'm put under a little bit of pressure and have a card in my hand and have to really score.

"Once I got those first couple holes out of the way, I felt like I settled into the round really nicely."

McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson are set to tee off on Friday at 9:05 a.m. EST.

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