Rory McIlroy shoots 65 to begin 2024 Scottish Open in first round since losing U.S. Open at Pinehurst

rory mcilroy 2024 scottish open

Rory McIlroy is back in the swing of things as the reigning champion seeking to defend his title this week at the 2024 Scottish Open. He certainly looked the part Thursday shooting 65 in his opening round at The Renaissance Club after taking an extended break from golf following his frustrating loss in the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 last month.

The 65 is not necessarily a surprise. 

McIlroy has been playing tremendous golf for the better part of three months, and he has not finished outside the top 15 anywhere in the world since the RBC Heritage the week after the Masters in April. That run of great play continued on Thursday when he went out in 34 and came in with a 31 on second back nine (front nine on the golf course). That side of the course included two birdies a chip-in eagle on the par-5 3rd hole. 

The 65 was the lowest opening round by a reigning champion in Scottish Open history.

“I think it was a bit of a slow start, sort of up and down,” said McIlroy, who will play for his elusive fifth major championship next week at Royal Troon. “I hit a couple of shots over the first few holes that I haven’t seen in practice over the last 10 days. So, a bit of a reminder that golf isn’t as easy as sometimes I think it is.

“But then, I really started to feel good. Especially on the front nine, our back nine, I started to hit some good drives, some good iron shots. I give myself plenty of chances on that back nine and actually felt like I left a couple out there as well. Overall, a good start, especially after sort of the scrappy start over the first six or seven holes.”

Earlier this week, McIlroy shared that he took some time off after the U.S. Open, visited New York, walked around the High Line and made some calls to people who talked him through the despair he was feeling after his brutal loss to Bryson DeChambeau where he made two bogeys in his final three holes.

The takeaway? How about reality.

Reality is that he’s still great at golf, and a bad three-hole stretch does not change that. Reality is that he’s playing his best golf of the year right now. 

“I’m not going to let three or four holes cloud my judgment in terms of how good I’m playing,” McIlroy explained. “I knew to play the golf that I did the whole way through June, it wasn’t just the U.S. Open. I played well at the Canadian Open and at Memorial before that even and PGA and Quail Hollow. My game has been in good shape and it was in good shape coming in here.

“It’s just a matter of going out there and focusing on the task at hand and not letting your mind wander too much. I felt like I did a good job of that today.”

McIlroy bouncing back Thursday from that U.S. Open pain and a lot of time off is encouraging for his Open Championship chances. Of course, Open prospects are not fulfilled in 18 holes at the Scottish Open. Still, McIlroy’s start to a 10-day stretch in Scotland was about as good as he could have hoped. 

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