Rory McIlroy struggles to three-over 74 on day one at Valspar Championship

8 March 2018, 19:24

Rory McIlroy has his work cut out to avoid missing the cut on his Valspar Championship debut after he struggled to an opening 74 at Innisbrook.

McIlroy made only one birdie on the day, and that coming via a hole-out from a bunker, while two bogeys and an ugly double-bogey seven left him at three over par and seven shots behind the early clubhouse lead.

The world No 12 spent time practising at Augusta National last week after opting to miss the first World Golf Championship event of the season in Mexico, and he sounded confident that he had fixed issues with his swing that contributed to a disappointing performance at the Honda Classic.

But McIlroy struggled in the cool, blustery conditions in Tampa, although he did manage to hole a number of clutch par-saving putts after starting on the 10th.

The 28-year-old parred every hole on the back nine and added another at the first before he bunkered his approach to the second and failed to get up-and-down.

He missed decent birdie chances on the next two greens, but he made a mess of the par-five fifth as he blocked his drive deep into the trees, pitched back out sideways, came up short of the green with his third and needed three to get down from the rear fringe.

The lone bright spot was a superb splash-out from sand at the seventh which found the bottom of the cup, but he slipped back to three over when he missed from four feet for par at the ninth.