Rory McIlroy Looks To Channel ‘Inner Tom Kim’ In Atlanta

Rory McIlroy, Tour Championship,Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy, Tour Championship,Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /

There aren’t many words that can be accurately used to describe what happened to Rory McIlroy during his opening round of the 2022 Tour Championship.

Some combination of exciting, bizarre, and frustrating would perhaps suffice. Rory began the PGA season finale at four-under-par, thanks to the FedEx Cup’s staggered stroke start that is implemented for the Tour Championship.

That start, however, would be completely wiped off the board after just two holes for Rory McIlroy on Thursday.

The 2022 RBC Canadian Open winner got off to the worst possible start after hooking his opening tee shot of the day out of bounds and then proceeding to send a provisional second shot into the fairway bunker.

The chaos off the tee to start his round would eventually lead to an opening triple-bogey for Rory McIlroy. It was a stunning start for a player who has had so much success around East Lake in the past.

McIlroy had no words to describe his triple start, or the craziness of his round in general when asked about it after his opening round.

"“Not really. Yeah, I got off to the worst start possible. We got a little unfortunate that we teed off in that big downpour earlier in the day. I tried to guide sort of this little peeler into the fairway at the 1st and complete double-crossed, body stopped.” he said."

The four-time major champion quickly added another dropped shot to the card on his very next hole, and that -4 he had at the start of the day had evaporated instantly.

Rory McIlroy was able to bounce back with a birdie on the next, but the 33-year-old continued to trade birdies for bogeys across his front nine, in fact, his first par of the day had to wait until Rory was already seven holes into his round.

McIlroy finally sparked some life into his opening round after a sublime pitch in eagle from the rough on the Par 5, 6th hole.

After heading out in 36, Rory McIlroy really came to life on his inward nine.

McIlroy tallied five birdies on his back nine, including a phenomenal stretch in which he added three consecutive birdies en route to four over his last five holes. This all resulted in an inward 31 for Rory.

It was certainly a tale of two very different nine-hole stretches for Rory McIlroy at the Tour Championship on Thursday and somehow he managed to respond in typical McIlroy fashion after the dreadful start.

The 21-time PGA Tour winner managed to erase his triple-bogey start and add to his tally, all over the course of just 18 holes. He became only the second player this season to offset a difficult start with a barrage of birdies as Justin Ray highlighted.

Unfortunately for Rory, even with the incredible bounceback on Thursday he still finds himself eight shots back of FedEx Cup leader Scottie Scheffler heading into Friday.

The large deficit isn’t discouraging him though, instead, Rory McIlroy is taking inspiration from Joohyung ‘Tom’ Kim’s performance at the Wyndham Championship several weeks ago when Kim managed to overcome a quadruple start en route to a sensational first PGA Tour win.

"“I sort of thought of Tom Kim a few weeks ago in Greensboro. He started with a quad and ended up going on to win the golf tournament. You know, and it is possible. Anything can be done. I’m just really proud of how I fought back today.”  -Rory McIlroy"

dark. Next. Monahan Announces More Ways PGA Tour Players Will Make Money

Six top 10s at East Lake in his last eight starts should further boost his confidence heading into the final three rounds of the season finale.

Rory has a steep hill to climb if he is to claim an unprecedented third FedEx Cup crown and in the process surpass Scottie Scheffler at the top, but McIlroy, at the very least, seemingly has the right mindset this week as he looks to channel a bit of his own ‘inner Tom Kim’.