sport

McIlroy surges back after slip

Rory McIlroy overcame a mid-round wobble to put himself firmly in contention after the opening round of the US PGA Championship at Valhalla.

The new world No 1, who is bidding for a hat-trick of victories following his wins in the Open Championship and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, continued his fine form with three birdies on the front nine.

However, the wheels came off at the par-five 10th when he hooked his second shot out of bounds from the centre of the fairway and ran up a double-bogey seven.

He followed that up by three-putting the par-three 11th to slip back to level par and six shots off the lead.

McIlroy quickly steadied the ship, though, and stormed back up the leaderboard with four successive birdies from the 12th.

He then closed his round with another birdie at the 18th when his eagle putt shaved the hole to deny him a share of the lead.

\"Things like 10 happen, you hit bad shots every now and again," he told Sky Sports. "I was really annoyed with myself to bogey the next hole as well, not to shake that off.

\"But, after I hit the second shot at 12, I gave myself a little 'come on, that was better' and that sort of kick-started things.

\"Thirteen was a good yardage for me. I knew it was just a good sand wedge, and that I could pitch it past the hole and that the slope and the spin would help it come back.

\"It nearly went in but you settle for a birdie there and that was one of the good birdie opportunities on the back nine.\"

The 25-year-old admitted he was proud of the way he fought back.

"Three-putting after making double on 10, my response after that was really good, and it shows mentally where I am at with my game," he said.

\"I'm really happy with the five-under start.\"

The Northern Irishman also believes he is driving the ball better than he has ever done in his career.

He said: \"Yes, just look at the stats (average driving distance 327.8, driving accuracy 85.71%). I am driving the ball fantastically well, I'm really confident with it and the fairways this week are a little more generous than they were last week at Firestone.

\"I feel like I can step up on these tees and hit it hard and hit the fairways so, if I can keep stats like that up for the next few days, I will be happy.\"