Open 2014: Rory McIlroy keeps second-round expectations low

By Rob HodgettsBBC Sport at Hoylake
Rory McIlroy
McIlroy hopes to keep the pressure off for the second round

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."

Open 2014: Rory McIlroy's best five opening-round shots

McIlroy also suffered a 15-shot swing - from 63 to 78 - in the Memorial tournament in the US in May and struggled on the second day at the Masters and Quail Hollow PGA Tour event.

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.

Rory McIlroy began his Open challenge with a promising 66

"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
Difference1st/2nd round scoresTournament
15 shots63/78The Memorial, May
14 shots64/78Scottish Open, July
7 shots63/70Desert Classic, January
7 shots69/76Wells 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.

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