McIlroy plays ideal Ryder Cup golf a week too early

Thu Sep 22, 2016 7:55pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Rory McIlroy's roller-coaster opening round at the Tour Championship on Thursday was not ideal for stroke play but just about perfect for the match play format of next week's Ryder Cup.

Northern Irishman McIlroy is the only member of the European Ryder Cup team in the 30-man field at East Lake in Atlanta, where eight players from the United States lineup are in action ahead of next week's showdown in Chaska, Minnesota.

The former world number one had consecutive double-bogeys midway through his round, preceded by three straight early birdies and followed by an even better late run of four successive birdies.

"When I get it going, I can really run with it and then when it goes the other way I struggle to get out of it a little bit but that's the nature of the way my game is right now, and how it has been for most of the year," McIlroy told reporters after carding a two-under 68 that left him two strokes off the lead.

"I'm seeing more good, which is great, and holing some putts, making birdies ... as long as I continue to do that, I should be okay."

McIlroy, who blew away the field with a brilliant, trademark closing 65 to win the Deutsche Bank Championship three weeks ago, observed that his ability to make plenty of birdies should stand him in good stead for next week.

"This sort of golf next week would actually be okay at the Ryder Cup," said the four-times major champion. "Make seven birdies and you're going to do okay."

On the American Ryder Cup front, an intriguing sub plot at this week's Tour Championship will be the battle to earn the final wild card spot on the U.S. team.

Eleven players at East Lake are trying to impress captain Davis Love, who will select his 12th man after Sunday's final round.   Continued...

Sep 22, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Rory McIlroy tees off the third hole during the 2016 Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports