Rory McIlroy starts strong at RBC Canadian Open

Rory McIlroy makes birdie after solid long iron at RBC Canadian

Rory McIlroy is a two-time winner of the RBC Canadian Open but he still got busted for gate-crashing a hospitality tent at Hamilton Golf and Country Club.

He had just lost his tee shot way right at the par-5 17th hole, and that’s when things got weird.

“I obviously hit it into the hospitality and some guy yelled out, ‘You need a wrist band to get in here!’” McIlroy said Thursday. “So that was pretty funny.”

Availed of a free drop, McIlroy made par and in fact strung together nine of them on his first nine, the back, before birdies at Nos. 1, 5, 7 and 8 gave him a 4-under 66.

Rory McIlroy sticks it close from 128 yards and makes the birdie at RBC Canadian

Who’s laughing now?

He was tied with Ryan Fox and three behind early co-leaders Sam Burns and Sean O’Hair.

“I played the back nine blind,” said McIlroy, who shot 61 at the 2019 RBC Canadian Open at Hamilton, before its recent restoration. “Hadn’t seen the back nine. Only played the front nine in the pro-am. I was sort of happy enough to get out of there in even par and not make a bogey.

“But once I got that nine holes out of the way,” he continued, “I knew there were some chances on that front side and played probably much better on that front side. Four birdies there, no bogeys, was a good day’s work.”

It’s been a busy year for the world No. 3 and FedExCup No. 4. Before he took time off to attend a friend’s wedding in Italy last week, McIlroy won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans with partner Shane Lowry; captured his fourth Wells Fargo Championship (his 26th PGA TOUR win); and was T12 at the PGA Championship at Valhalla.

“I’ve played a lot, but it’s been good,” he said. “It’s been – I’ve started to play my way into form and I’ve played well the last few weeks and hopefully I can just keep that going.”

He’s also keeping the mistakes off the scorecard, going bogey-free Thursday.

“The start of the year or at least through like February, March, April, I was making some big numbers,” he said after besting playing partners Nick Taylor (72) and Taylor Pendrith (69), “There was a lot of volatility on the scorecard.

“But to play bogey-free rounds is really nice again.”

Before Thursday, McIlroy’s most recent memory of Hamilton was his final-round 61 in 2019. With a chance to shoot his first 59 on the PGA TOUR, he bogeyed the last hole and said he had to remind himself to cheer up because he’d still won – by seven.

So far, at least, his good Hamilton mojo is holding steady. With three more good rounds and a third RBC Canadian Open title, they might even give him a wristband.

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