Chaska - Rory McIlroy's roller-coaster opening round at the
Tour Championship on Thursday was not ideal for stroke play but just about
perfect for the match play format of next week's Ryder Cup.
Northern Irishman McIlroy is the only member of the European
Ryder Cup team in the 30-man field at East Lake in Atlanta, where eight players
from the United States lineup are in action ahead of next week's showdown in
The former world No 1 had consecutive double-bogeys midway
through his round, preceded by three straight early birdies and followed by an
even better late run of four successive birdies.
"When I get it going, I can really run with it and then
when it goes the other way I struggle to get out of it a little bit but that's
the nature of the way my game is right now, and how it has been for most of the
year," McIlroy told reporters after carding a two-under 68 that left him
two strokes off the lead.
"I'm seeing more good, which is great, and holing some
putts, making birdies ... as long as I continue to do that, I should be
McIlroy, who blew away the field with a brilliant, trademark
closing 65 to win the Deutsche Bank Championship three weeks ago, observed that
his ability to make plenty of birdies should stand him in good stead for next
"This sort of golf next week would actually be okay at
the Ryder Cup," said the four-times major champion. "Make seven
birdies and you're going to do okay."
On the American Ryder Cup front, an intriguing sub plot at
this week's Tour Championship will be the battle to earn the final wild card
spot on the US team.
Eleven players at East Lake are trying to impress captain
Davis Love, who will select his 12th man after Sunday's final round.
Kevin Chappell, the joint leader on 66, and Kevin Kisner
(67) made promising starts, but twice Masters champion Bubba Watson has his
work cut out after a mediocre 72.
World number seven Watson is the highest-ranked player not
already on the US team, and he arrived at East Lake knowing he needed a strong showing
after being overlooked last week when Love made his first three wild card
Despite his slow start, Watson remained bullish.
"I thought I played great," the American
left-hander said. "My ball-striking was where I wanted.
"Around this course it takes one good round. It's a