Rory McIlroy says short game must improve

Rory McIlroy says short game must improve

Rory McIlroy couldn`t improve on his opening round 71 on Friday, but the world number one wasn`t giving up on his PGA Championship title defense.

"I felt like I played good in parts," McIlroy said after his second straight one-under round at Whistling Straits left him on two-under 142 and five shots off the mid-round lead.

"There`s still enough good stuff to give me encouragement and make me feel that I can shoot a low one tomorrow and get myself back into it," he said.

McIlroy said he would need to sharpen his iron play on a course where some missed greens are inevitable.

"You`re going to have to have more of a short game to be able to salvage par sometimes," he said. "I wasn`t quite able to do that today at points."

The 26-year-old is playing for the first time since the US Open in June. He ruptured a left ankle ligament playing football in July and was unable to defend his British Open and WGC Bridgestone Invitational titles.

McIlroy has shown no sign that the ankle still troubles him, but he said some crispness was lacking.

"I don`t really want to blame it on rest. But I didn`t putt as well as I would have liked," he said.

Otherwise he feels in the groove of tournament golf.

"I`ve been nice and aggressive, making full and committed swings at it. That was probably one of the most surprising things about yesterday is how quickly I got back into the mindset of tournament golf and being aggressive."

McIlroy, who teed off on 10 in a group with US star Jordan Spieth, made a double-bogey at the par-four 18th after his second shot from the fairway found heavy rough.

He rebounded with a chip-in for eagle at the second, but he settled for par at the next par-five, the 603-yard fifth.

He did birdie the par-four sixth, but promptly gave that shot back with a bogey at the par-three seventh.

"I felt like I should have got that ball up and down on seven," said McIlroy, whose number one ranking is under threat by Spieth this week.

"And then I had a great chance on eight for birdie and didn`t take that. A couple of days in a row where I haven`t finished the round of golf the way I wanted to.

"I`m not annoyed ... but just a little more disappointed with how I finished."

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