Rory McIlroy: ‘I think in this game you need to be an eternal optimist’

Rory McIlroy reckons he is very positive about the current state of his game, as golf requires you to be an eternal optimist.

After putting in a solid performance in Abu Dhabi last week, the Northern Irishman opened with a four-under-par 68 in the opening round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

McIlroy was playing the tougher South Course on Thursday, and while he would have liked to have picked up a few more birdies on the back nine after an impressive front nine, overall he was happy with his performance.

“I feel like it was a little bit of a tale of two halves,” he said.

“I played the front nine really well in four under, and then I guess a little disappointed that I didn’t pick any up coming in, especially with the par-5s, 13 and 18.

“I dropped a shot with a bad approach, a bad decision, on 15 but then got it back on 17.

“I think when you start this tournament on the South Course you just want to get off to a decent start – especially today, knowing that the weather’s going to come in tomorrow, which will obviously make the South Course even tougher.

“So yeah, I’m satisfied. I wish I could have gotten a couple more as well, but you’re never going to complain shooting four-under out there.”

Asked specifically what he was satisfied with in regards to aspects of his game and what he’d still like to improve throughout the week, McIlroy said he was happy with his long game but wouldn’t mind holing a few more putts.

“I drove it better than the last day in Abu Dhabi, so that was good. I just committed to the driver a little more,” he said.

“I felt like my approach play was a little better. I hit some good iron shots.

“I maybe didn’t hole as many putts, going from the Bermuda grass last week to the Poa this week is just a little bit of an adjustment. so I didn’t hole quite as many putts or take advantage of the opportunities I gave myself.

“Obviously tomorrow on the North Course on more bent greens rather than Poa there’s maybe an opportunity to hole some more putts out there, but obviously with the weather coming in, you never know.”

After plenty of sunshine on day one at Torrey Pines, the weather is set to turn nasty on Friday, with strong winds and heavy rain predicted.

Asked how his approach might change on the North Course if the predictions prove accurate, McIlroy said he was pretty much going in blind.

“I’m sort of happy that I haven’t played a practice round over there this week. It’s maybe not a bad thing with the conditions. Just go out there, stay as dry as possible, and keep the ball in front of you and on the short stuff. I feel like we’ve got the easier golf course in the worst conditions. Whether that’s an advantage or not I’m not sure, we’ll wait and see.”

Asked how optimistic he was about the state of his game at the start of the new year with a string of tournaments coming up, McIlroy said it wouldn’t do him much good to be anything other than positive.

“I’m very optimistic. I think in this game you need to be an eternal optimist. You can’t get down on yourself too much,” he added.

“I was very encouraged with the play that I showed at the back end of last year. Getting to see my swing coach Michael Bannon a bit more. I saw him just before Christmas and he was in Abu Dhabi with me last week.

“So with all those things combined and showing a little bit more form, I’m pretty happy with where the game is and very optimistic going into these next few weeks.”