Rory McIlroy Shoots The Lights Out At Bay Hill. Here's How He Did It...

The 2018 champion was on fire on day one of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, shooting a 7-under-par 65 to take the early lead

Rory McIlroy in action on day 1 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he shot a 7-under-par 65 to take the early lead
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy shot a seven-under-par 65 to claim the clubhouse lead on the opening day of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Florida. The Northern Irishman bogeyed his second hole of the day, the 11th, but birdied the next two and never looked back, finishing with six birdies and an eagle.

The 32-year-old at least birdied every par-5 in his opening round, finishing 5-under-par on the four par-5s. Before the tournament, Rory had outlined the importance of picking up shots on those all-important par-5s.

“It's one of these courses that I don't feel like I have to do anything special to compete,” he said. “I can play within myself. You take care of the par-5s here. You play conservatively the rest of the way, especially how the golf course here has been set up the past few years. You play for your pars, and then you try to pick off birdies on the par-5s and some of the easier holes. If you just keep doing that day after day, you're going to find yourself around the top of the leaderboard.”

McIlroy came into this week questioning why the course at Bay Hill had been set up differently to other years, but the thicker rough and lack of run offs from the greens didn’t affect him on Thursday. He gained over 1.7 shots putting, hit 67% of greens in regulation and averaged 314 yards with the driver, hitting 11/14 fairways for 79% driving accuracy. The 41-foot, 1-inch eagle putt McIlroy made at the par-5 16th was the longest made eagle putt of his PGA Tour career.

Rory has won 20 times on the PGA Tour, including his victory in the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational, and is looking for his first title since last September’s Wells Fargo Championship. McIlroy’s career-best at Bay Hill was that final round 64 in 2018, when he came from two shots behind Henrik Stenson and one behind Bryson DeChambeau to take the title by three strokes. He has four other top 10 finishes in the past five years at Bay Hill, as well as that 2018 victory.

Jeff Kimber
Jeff Kimber

Jeff graduated from Leeds University in Business Studies and Media in 1996 and did a post grad in journalism at Sheffield College in 1997. His first jobs were on Slam Dunk (basketball) and Football Monthly magazines, and he's worked for the Sunday Times, Press Association and ESPN. He has faced golfing greats Sam Torrance and Sergio Garcia, but on the poker felt rather than the golf course. Jeff's favourite course played is Sandy Lane in Barbados, which went far better than when he played Matfen Hall in Northumberland, where he crashed the buggy on the way to the 1st tee!