© Reuters. PGA: PGA Championship – first round
By Rory Carroll
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Rory McIlroy said on Thursday he was trying not to play too fast at the first major golf tournament of the year, even though the absence of fans allows rounds to be completed faster.
The Northern Irish's four birdies equalized four bogies when he carded a balanced par 70 in the opening round of the PGA championship in San Francisco, which is played without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"One of the things that comes from not having fans is that the laps were a little faster," he said.
"You don't have to wait for people to calm down, especially if you are in the rough all day like I was, so it was a nice thing."
"Of course, I have to remind myself all the time to slow down whether it's a major or not. I think most people would say that they play their best golf when they're a bit relaxed and not too intense."
McIlroy looked relaxed as he chatted with Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas during the group round at TPC Harding Park and once even discussed with Woods whether the Major League Baseball season would continue if more players tested positive for the virus.
But he also had moments of negligence when he missed a feasible par putt on the sixth hole of the par-4 by hitting the ball too hard.
World number three McIlroy, who sprays for his third PGA championship and fifth major overall, said he was happy to be with Thomas and Woods. All three have homes in Florida.
"We all know each other and play a lot when we are at home, which makes it a comfortable grouping," he said.
And while he said he had gotten used to playing without fans since the PGA tour resumed in June, he said it was still strange to announce Woods' name at the start of the round and him to be silent.
"It's still funny, you know, & # 39; 99, 2000, 2006, 2007, PGA champion, Tiger Woods! And then there's nothing.
"It's pretty interesting. It's definitely different. We got used to it.
"Unfortunately, this is how it will be for the foreseeable future, and yes, at this point everyone I think has adapted to the environment we are playing in."
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