Two-time major victor Jordan Spieth said his opening round in the British Open at Royal Birkdale on Thursday was one of the finest he had ever produced in a major after he took a share of the clubhouse lead with a five-under par score of 65.
"They need to get out and water it a little bit". When injuries and equipment changes held him back, it made me long all the more for another hot streak to come.
QUOTEWORTHY: "You're Rory McIlroy, what are you doing?" - caddie J.P. Fitzgerald to McIlroy on the sixth tee after his faltering start.
"To be in after two days and be under-par for this championship after the way I started, I'm ecstatic with that", McIlroy said. And he's never afraid to do that. "But given the forecast coming in, I thought you really needed to be in the red today".
It's odd to think about one of the world's best athletes having self-confidence issues, but that's occasionally been the difference between McIlroy playing great and McIlroy playing mediocre golf.
And he would have been content to maintain that watching brief, only to find that his round turned out better than he had hoped for, leaving him two shots ahead of Matt Kuchar and three clear of Ian Poulter.
NOTEWORTHY: There were no birdies all day on the 499-yard par-4 13th hole. Now he's on the short list of best players to have never won a major.
"My caddie, JP, gave me a talking to".
"He does it quite often, it's just whether it penetrates my head is a different thing", McIlroy said. He finally seems to have found one he likes, though, a TP Juno blade model from TaylorMade, and his confidence on the greens seems to be gradually returning.
"We've been here before and we're not going for the first major but it is the first Open and I'd be lying if I said I won't feel plenty of nerves", added Spieth, who missed out on a play-off at St Andrews in 2015 by a single shot.
"It's not like I went through a war", McIlroy said.
With as well as Spieth is playing, there is still a ton of ground McIlroy needs to make up to make a legitimate run at his fifth major championship. Koepka was the seventh straight first-time victor of a major. He was itching to get back to competition, and after arriving last weekend at Royal Birkdale to learn the course, he proved to be a quick study.