Rory McIlroy walked off the 18th green in disgruntled fashion, shaking his head and looking down at the ground.
Shooting a 5-under 67 at Wentworth can rarely have felt so unsatisfactory.
The four-time major winner pushed his approach shot from the middle of the fairway into the overhanging trees at the par-5 last, saw his chip clip the flag pole, then missed a 3-foot putt for birdie for a disappointing end to his first round at the BMW PGA Championship on Thursday.
McIlroy also missed out on a birdie on the par-5 17th, too. Hence his unhappiness immediately after his round, although he was only two shots off the lead held by Lucas Bjerregaard (65).
“Walking off the 16th green and going to No. 17 at 5 over par, it was good after being 1 over after three (holes),” McIlroy said, before diverting away from revisiting the end of his round.
“I played really well, gave myself plenty of chances, drove it well, for the most part hit my irons a lot better than I have done, so it was nice to get off to a good start.”
McIlroy is playing the European Tour’s flagship event for the first time since 2015. He won it in 2014, the year he won the British Open and the U.S. PGA Championship — his last major victories.
After bogeying No. 3, the former top-ranked McIlroy reeled off seven birdies in 13 holes and later said the greens were in the best condition he’d seen them.
Bjerregaard, whose only win came in Portugal last year, made seven birdies in a bogey-free round — his last at No. 18 giving him the outright lead over South Africans Dean Burmester and Darren Fichardt.
Burmester earlier played his last eight holes in 6 under par — including making eagle at the 15th — to draw level with compatriot Fichardt, who was also bogey-free. Kiradech Aphibarnrat finished 7-6 on the two par fives to drop from the outright lead at the time to 4 under.
Kevin Na sinks a 90-foot chip to lead Colonial after first again
Kevin Na chipped in from the rough more than 90 feet away for an incredible birdie to close out an 8-under 62 and take the first-round lead in the Fort Worth Invitational at Colonial on Thursday.
After Na’s tee shot at the 399-yard ninth hole went into the rough to the right, his approach flew over the green and settled against a temporary grandstand. His relief was a drop into more rough, but after the chip to the green, the ball rolled over a ridge, started to curl and caught the right edge of the cup before falling to end his round.
That put him one stroke ahead of Charley Hoffman, who also was bogey-free when shooting a 63 in the morning round.
Jhonattan Vegas, Emiliano Grillo, Andrew Putnam and Beau Hossler shot 64.
LPGA Tour: Jutanugarn, Masson, Kang, Olson share lead at Volvik Championship
Amy Olson crossed paths with her coach, Ron Stockton, on her walk to the 18th tee at the Volvik Championship.
“Make it another even $20,” Stockton said.
The coach was already prepared to give his client $35 for making seven birdies — $5 each — and wanted to take her mind off the bogey she just had at 17.
Olson closed the first round with a 6-under 66, putting her into the lead she ended up sharing later Thursday with Moriya Jutanugarn , Caroline Masson and Danielle Kang.
Do small, cash incentives really help a professional golfer?
“Absolutely,” said Olson, who graduated from North Dakota State with an accounting degree. “He’ll tell you I’m a little bit of a hustler there.”
Olson will have to keep making birdies — and petty cash — to hold her position at Travis Pointe Country Club.
Jessica Korda, Minjee Lee, Nasa Hataoka, Lindy Duncan, Morgan Pressel, Megan Khang and Jodi Ewart Shadoff were a stroke back at 67 and six others were to shots back.
Ariya Jutanugarn, the Kingsmill Championship winner last week in Virginia, opened with a 69.
The Jutanugarn sisters are Korda are among six players with a chance to become the LPGA Tour’s first two-time winner this year.
Moriya Jutanugarn won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles.
“What I feel is more relaxed now,” she said. “And, of course I like looking forward for my next one.”
Olson, meanwhile, is hoping to extend the LPGA Tour’s streak of having a new winner in each of its 12 tournaments this year.
She knows how to win. It just has been a while since it has happened.
Olson set an NCAA record with 20 wins, breaking the mark set by LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, but has struggled to have much success since turning pro in 2013.
She has not finished best finish was a tie for seventh and that was four years ago. She was in contention to win the ANA Inspiration two months ago, but an even-par 72 dropped her into a tie for ninth place.
If the North Dakota player wins the Volvik Championship, she will earn a spot in the U.S. Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama. If Olson finishes second or lower in the 144-player field, she will enjoy an off week with her husband, Grant, who coaches linebackers at Indiana State.
“I’ll make the best of it either way,” she said.