After walking off the golf course at the Honda Classic in 2013, Rory McIlroy returned with a vengeance on Thursday. The 2012 winner of this event at The PGA National Championship Golf Course in Palm Beach, Florida fired a bogey-free 63 to get in the clubhouse with the lead at -7 under par. There are players on the course at this writing, and Russell Henley is one shot back.
Clad in Rickie Fowler Sunday Orange, McIlroy served notice to fans, and the rest of the world-class field that he is officially back after he disappeared from leaderboards, and the top of the Official World Golf Rankings in 2013 following a banner 2012 when he won The Race To Dubai and the scoring average title on both the PGA and European Tours.
The 24 year-old Northern Irishman is averaging a touch over 300 yards with his driver, and hitting over 70% of his fairways. His confidence, and putting stroke are once again in his bag, and it’s showing up on his scorecard. He hit over 75% of his greens in regulation on Thursday, and gained over three strokes on the greens.
McIlroy got it to -2 under par with back to back birdies at two and three, but it was on the back where he heated up. After making the turn at 33, he started the back nine with a three pack. Birdies at the two finishing holes, he carded 30 on the back nine on the par 70 layout.
Playing along with Adam Scott, whom he beat in Australia for his only win in 2013, and Billy Horschel, McIlroy didn’t break a sweat on Thursday afternoon. His high ball flight was made for the Jack Nicklaus refurbished PGA National Golf Course, and on a day when his putter was hot seemed to play effortless golf.
Now it will be interesting to see how Rory continues his play as we approach the majors (you can check out PrimeSport for Masters tickets at Augusta National). McIlroy certainly has the talent to win several tournaments this season, majors included, so hopefully he can maintain his current level of play.
You can follow Les on Twitter @Spin_47 and in the Golf Community at Google+