Open 2014: Rory McIlroy keeps second-round expectations low
Rory McIlroy says he will try to approach the second round at the Open with no expectations as he attempts to banish his 'Freaky Friday' trend.
The 25-year-old Northern Irishman shot an opening six-under-par round of 66 to lead the field by one shot at Hoylake.
But he has had a string of poor Friday rounds this season including a 78 after a 64 at last week's Scottish Open.
"When you go out on Thursday, there are not many expectations. I've got to approach it like that," he said.
"But it's not like I've shot good scores and haven't backed them up before. I just haven't done it recently."
But the Northern Irishman was in majestic form over the sun-drenched Royal Liverpool course, firing six birdies and dropping no shots as he made the most of the perfect scoring conditions on a still morning.
In contrast to Tiger Woods's policy of only using one driver all week when he won over a fast and fiery Hoylake in 2006, McIlroy used his driver on the fifth, seventh, 16th and 18th and says in hindsight he should have used it on the 17th, too.
"I hit some really good shots on the first holes and that gave me confidence," he said.
"I don't feel like I was overly aggressive. I stuck to my gameplan."
McIlroy suspected earlier this season that Fridays were becoming an issue for him.
"I had a bad Friday afternoon at Augusta, I started off horrifically at Quail Hollow and the same at Sawgrass. That's three tournaments in a row. That's when I was conscious of it," he said. "And then Memorial was obviously the biggest one."
He recently met up with 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus, who brought up the subject of McIlroy's second-round slumps, particularly at the Memorial tournament.
Talking generally about holding a round together, Nicklaus told him about how he was never afraid to change strategy or tinker with his swing to get a round back on track.
"He said, how you can you shoot 63, 78?" said McIlroy.
|Rory McIlroy's 2014 implosions|
|Difference||1st/2nd round scores||Tournament|
|15 shots||63/78||The Memorial, May|
|14 shots||64/78||Scottish Open, July|
|7 shots||63/70||Desert Classic, January|
|7 shots||69/76||Wells Fargo, May|
"I know everyone says it and you've heard it a thousand times, but I've got to take it one hole at a time, one shot at a time," said McIlroy. "That's what I'll be trying to do tomorrow. I'll try not to think about where I am on the leaderboard because it's irrelevant, it's only the second day."
McIlroy shot a stunning 63 on a similar day in the first round of the 2010 Open at St Andrews but followed it up with an 80 in the worst of a Friday gale, before rallying to finish a distant tied third behind Louis Oosthuizen.
A month after his record-breaking 2011 US Open win at a rain-softened Congressional, McIlroy courted controversy in a wind-battered Open at Royal St George's when he struggled to a final-round 77 and admitted afterwards he would prefer to be playing in 80 degrees and calm conditions.
The weather this weekend is set to be changeable, with thundery showers and some sunshine, but McIlroy says his preparation at last week's Scottish Open should help him cope with whatever is thrown at him.
"I feel like I'm well prepared this week for whatever the conditions," he said.