Resurgent McIlroy seizes lead in Malaysian Open | Pakistan Today

Resurgent McIlroy seizes lead in Malaysian Open

KUALA LUMPUR – Rory McIlroy smashed the longest drive of his career as he put his U.S. Masters meltdown behind him to fire an opening round three-under-par 69 at the Malaysian Open on Thursday. All eyes were on McIlroy after he blew a four-shot lead at Augusta on Sunday with huge crowds putting up with stifling temperatures in Kuala Lumpur to follow the Northern Irishman. Looking fresh in his white outfit despite his long flight, McIlroy carded a promising opening round to finish five shots behind leader Alexander Noren. It was not such a good day for Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.
The South African bemoaned jet-lag and lost clubs as he slumped to a 73 after an early tee-time The curly-haired McIlroy showed no ill-affects of a 25-hour journey to Malaysia and his clubs arriving late as he birdied three of his opening five holes at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. McIlroy, playing alongside world number one Martin Kaymer (70) and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee (73), was not his usual solid self tee-to-green but his drive on the fifth hole passed the 400-yard mark thanks to a favourable bounce. “Probably,” the 21-year-old smirked when asked by reporters if it was the longest drive of his career.
“You don’t say this too often but I was almost too close to the green on a par five. It must of went at least 400 yards. “I was lucky it hit off the cart-path and it could of went out of bounds but it stayed in bounds for me and set up an easy birdie.” As the round progressed, however, a few loose shots crept in and his Augusta final-round putting woes returned when he missed a short par effort on 14 for his only dropped shot of the day.
“I would have definitely taken it before the round,” said McIlroy, the sweat dripping from his cap and clothing. “I knew I was going to put a few bad swings on it just because of the way I was feeling but you know hopefully as the week progresses I can get better and shoot some better scores.” McIlroy was again asked about his final-round 80 at Augusta but said he was over the disappointment. “There was more people upset about that round than I was,” he said. “I’m fine. It’s one bad round. I’ll live and I’m getting on with it.”
While McIlroy may have had reason to be apprehensive before his round, Sweden’s Noren had no explanation for his nervous mood. However, nine birdies followed as he reached eight-under to lead Italy’s Matteo Manassero by two shots before play was suspended because of fading light. “I was really nervous going into this round. I don’t know why,” Noren said. Noren, whose sole victory came at the European Masters in 2009, birdied his opening three holes before dropping his only shot at the 358-yard par four 14th.

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