McIlroy puts aside distractions, fires 68 at BMW

Rory McIlroy during the first round of the 2014 BMW PGA Championship.
Rory McIlroy during the first round of the 2014 BMW PGA Championship. ( Getty Images )

Thursday, May 22, 2014

VIRGINIA WATER, England – Rory McIlroy obviously is heartbroken about his breakup with Caroline Wozniacki, but it didn’t show in the opening round of the €4.75 million ($6.485 million) BMW PGA Championship.

Just a day after calling off his wedding to the former world's top tennis player, McIlroy fashioned two eagles around Wentworth’s West Course in an opening 4-under 68 Thursday to give himself a chance at winning the European Tour’s flagship event.

McIlroy had never broken par in six previous opening rounds here, and he returned his second-lowest score around the West Course after a third-round 65 in 2009.

He’s six shots off Thomas Bjorn's lead with three rounds to go. Maybe there’s something to being footloose and fancy-free after all.

The fireworks began at the par-4 seventh hole when he holed a 130-yard pitching-wedge shot for eagle. At the par-5 12th, he made another eagle after his 5-iron approach stopped inches from the hole for a gimme.

Not bad for a guy who says he’s having trouble sleeping after the upheaval in his personal life.

“At times it was very difficult,” McIlroy conceded. “But I was just trying to bury my head in my golf and play and focus on that. That’s really the big objective this week. I think for the most part I did that very well.”

McIlroy, 25, a two-time major champion and former World No. 1 from Northern Ireland, had said the best tonic for getting over his much-publicized breakup with Wozniacki was to get inside the ropes and play golf. He was right.

“Once I got over the shot and start concentrating on that it was very easy, and you try and keep your mind on that," he said. "I said yesterday it was going to be a very difficult week for me, and I’m really happy to try and put my head fully into my golf and take it from there.

“I don’t think you’d be a human being if it wasn’t tough, especially when it’s a little slow out there and you’re walking between shots.

“Honestly, I’ll just be delighted to make it to the weekend because I haven’t done for the last couple of years. I feel like I’m playing well enough to shoot good scores, and I’ll try and go out tomorrow and shoot something similar or even better and get myself in the mix.”

McIlroy has distanced himself from personal electronics to minimize the distraction that goes with a very public breakup.

“I haven’t looked at my phone in a few days," he said, "and I’ve given my laptop away. I feel like I’m living in the '70s or even '60s.”

McIlroy released the news of his breakup with Wozniacki and then dealt with it in his pre-tournament news conference. He explained why he went through that process.

“It had been played out in the media so much that it was probably the best way to do it," he said. "It was a natural thing to do. It’s a tough week, and I’m not really comfortable standing here talking about it.”

If the first round is any indication, then maybe he’s going to let his clubs do the talking for the next three days. readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.