McIlroy struggles in wind at Honda but lives to fight on

Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:30pm EST
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By Simon Evans

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy has had his share of ups and downs at the Honda Classic and Thursday's opening round, where he shot a three-over-par 73, was no different.

The Northern Irishman won at PGA National in 2012 with a victory that sent him to the world number one spot for the first time in his career and signaled his arrival as one of the sport's true stars.

McIlroy walked off the course just a year later during his first round, talking about being in a "bad place" but later saying a painful toothache had been behind his withdrawal.

Twelve months ago, he played some outstanding golf but surrendered a three-stroke lead with an error-strewn 74 in the final round before losing out to American Russell Henley in a four-way playoff.

It looked as though McIlroy's bad vibes at the Honda Classic were once again back on Thursday when he lost his ball with an errant drive from the tee on the first hole, where he ended up with a double-bogey.

The strong wind that afflicted the early starters had intensified by the time McIlroy teed off and he said that was a major factor during his round.

"The wind just took it to the right," the four-times major champion told reporters about his tee shot on the opening hole. "I was just trying to play a normal sort of straight shot there and I didn't really try and do much with it.

"Even the second ball I hit, I tried to put some draw on it and the wind still moved it to the right. It was very strong out there and very difficult to control the ball."   Continued...

Rory McIlroy plays from the 8th fairway during the first round of the Honda Classic at PGA National GC Champion Course. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports