Rory McIlroy upbeat after ending first day of BMW PGA one off the lead

McIlroy appeared to be on course for a possible share of the first-round lead at Wentworth as a vastly-improved display from tee-to-green and some assured putting set up seven birdie chances through 16 holes.

But the 2014 champion lipped out for birdie at the 17th, and he missed from inside three feet at the last, having hit the pin with his chip following a fortunate bounce out of the trees on the right with his wayward second shot.

McIlroy looked deflated as he tapped in for par and a round of 67, leaving him two shots adrift of leader Lucas Bjerregaard, but he was upbeat about the improvements to his game, having been troubled by inconsistency as he missed the halfway cut at The Players Championship a fortnight ago.

“I think I did everything pretty well,” said the 29-year-old, who is making his first appearance at Wentworth since missing the cut as defending champion in 2015. “I drove the ball much better and put the ball in play off the tee a lot more than I’ve done the last couple of weeks, so that’s been really good.

“I thought I gave myself a lot of chances and I took most of them. I’m a little frustrated I couldn’t get a birdie or two out of the last couple of holes but, overall, it was a really good start.

“You just have to play to your spots and try to pick your times when you’re aggressive. I did that today when I put the ball in play and I could get some good looks at some pins. This is a tricky golf course and you have to be okay with hitting away from pins at times, taking your par and moving on. I feel like I stayed pretty patient out there today with that.

“It was good to see golf like that. It was good to see the shots that I hit, and the drives that I hit, and I put it in play a lot more. I still hit a couple of loose shots out there, but I guess you can’t expect perfection all the time. I played a lot better today than I have done the last couple of weeks, so it’s a good step in the right direction.

“My wedge play was really good and that’s something I’ve tried to work on continuously over the course of the last 12 months, trying to get that better. Any time I had a wedge in hand, I felt I had a realistic chance for birdie. If I can keep doing that and if I can keep putting it in the fairway like I have been, that’s really positive signs going forward.

“Everything was right there, so if I can just do more of the same over the next three days, I should have a decent chance.”

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