McIlroy 'Encouraged' Despite Continuing Unwanted Masters Streak

The Northern Irishman was left to rue a cold putter as he laboured to another over-par round to begin The Masters

McIlroy 'Encouraged' Despite Continuing Unwanted Masters Streak
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy insists he saw plenty of positive signs on day one of the 86th Masters, despite beginning his bid for a first Green Jacket with a sloppy one-over-par round of 73.

The Northern Irishman showed plenty of prowess from tee to green as the late starters dealt with arguably the tougher conditions on Thursday at Augusta National, but he was left to rue a cold putter as he slipped six shots back of the early pacesetter Sungjae Im.

"It was good; I played really well," McIlroy said. "I think I hit like 12 fairways and 14 greens and just didn't really get a lot out of the round. I had a putt on 14 to go to two-under for the day with the par-5 to play, and I three-putt that, and that sort of halted any momentum I had.

"Didn't birdie 15 and hit it in that right bunker on 16 and didn't get it up and down. I feel like it was the worst I could have shot today. I feel like I played really, really well. I pulled a couple of putts, so I want to go on the putting green now and work on that a bit.

"The wind was up a little bit. But still the course was receptive enough that there were scores out there obviously. You saw that even the afternoon guys, Sungjae [Im] with five-under, and DJ [Dustin Johnson] with three or four, whatever he was. There's certainly scores out there.

"I'm encouraged with how I played, so I've just got to try to get more out of the round tomorrow."

Despite being "encouraged", the 32-year-old extended an unwanted Masters streak for another year. Not since 2018 has McIlroy posted a first-round score of 72 or better to begin his quest to complete the career Grand Slam.

He missed the cut last year after an opening 76 that coincided with a brief change of swing coach, but was able to recover from a 75 in 2020 to finish in a tie for fifth. Perhaps it's a sign of where McIlroy is right now - without a Major title in eight years and coming off the back of a missed cut last week - that he isn't concerned with his position on the leaderboard.

"I'm just pleased that I played well. I don't really care where I'm at on the leaderboard or it doesn't matter. I played well; I hit the ball great from tee to green for the most part. So I'm pleased with that."

McIlroy gets his second round under way at 10.45am local time (3.45pm UK time) as he looks to get back into contention. 

Andrew Wright
Staff Writer

A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.

Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.

As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as,, and

What's in Andy's bag?

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)

3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15°)

Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)

Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x