Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy felt so confident heading into the first round of The Open Championship that, on Wednesday, he said it was “a good week to back me.“
A four-time major champion, McIlroy last won The Open in 2014 and though he is, so far, winless throughout 2017, the 28-year-old foresaw success at the Royal Birkdale golf club in England.
But then disaster struck. After just six holes of golf on Thursday, McIlroy had bogeyed five holes.
He was inaccurate from the tee box, dicey on the green, and after just an hour of golf, he was 10 shots behind course leader Jordan Spieth.
McIlroy’s caddie JP Fitzgerald then made the timeliest of all interventions. After those six holes, Fitzgerald gave McIlroy an x-rated pep talk.
McIlroy didn’t drop a single shot for the rest of the round. He actually clawed his way back into the game by birdieing four holes on the back nine to card a 71 score.
“My caddie JP gave me a talking to which helped to keep me positive,” McIlroy later reflected on BBC Radio 5 Live. “He tried to remind me who I was, that I had won this tournament before, and he told me not to feel any pressure. I started to play my game after that.”
“It was nice to make birdies coming in,” he added. “At least I feel I got myself back out of the hole I was in and get back into the tournament.”
McIlroy may have finished Thursday six shots behind tournament leader Spieth but he talks like he is still in it to win it. “I feel really positive,” McIlroy said. “With the way I finished, I feel really good about it.”
Maybe Fitzgerald should swear at him more often.