US PGA Championship 2014: Rory McIlroy 'knocked off track' after wrong turn down cart path - but is still well placed to challenge leaders

Northern Irishman ends the day a shot of the lead pack

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The Independent Online

Few in the history of the game have looked so miserable after posting a 66 on the opening day of a major. Then again few in the history of the game have hit a golf ball like Rory McIlory.

His rivals at the top of the PGA Championship leaderboard should be grateful for the cart path that took his approach to the par-5 tenth sailing out of bounds on the bounce. Briefly discomfited by outrageous misfortune, McIlroy carded a double bogey and followed that with a bogey at 11 to fall back to level par after a serene outward nine.

And then came the McIlroy turbo, yielding four birdies on the spin. He was inches from more success at the 16th and 17th following two more stupendous drives. It goes without saying that he was on the par-5 18th in two. The eagle putt missed by a fraction leaving him a tap-in to finish at five under par, one off the shared lead held by Lee Westwood, Kevin Chappell and Ryan Palmer.

Since the boy tees off at 8.35am (1.35pm BST), he might be out of sight by the time Westwood resumes his tournament in the afternoon. One thing is for sure, McIlroy will not be hitting that cart track twice. He has an average driving distance of 327 yards and finds 85 per cent of fairways. You have been warned.

“What happened on ten really knocked me off track a little bit and it’s one of only a few bad shots I’ve hit in weeks”, McIlroy said. “What I was really angry about was that you make a ‘7’ but you don’t compound that by making a bogey on the next hole which is what I did.

“Walking onto the 12th tee I was muttering a few things to myself but it was just great to hit that second shot in close, in the way I did, as it is one of the toughest par fours on the course and make birdie that made me feel a little bit better. It shows where my game is at the moment that I was able to do that.”