McIlroy finding it too easy to find faults with his swing

Rory McIlroy is struggling with his game two weeks ahead of the Open (Picture: David J Phillip/AP).
Rory McIlroy is struggling with his game two weeks ahead of the Open (Picture: David J Phillip/AP).
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Rory McIlroy revealed how much work he has to do before bidding to regain his Open title after an erratic opening round in the 100th French Open in Paris.

McIlroy was two under par after six holes at Le Golf National, but eventually had to settle for a level-par 71 featuring four birdies, four bogeys and two trips to the water at the 2018 Ryder Cup venue.

That left the 27-year-old five shots off the lead held by Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard, whose 66 gave him a one-shot lead over defending champion Bernd Wiesberger, Belgium’s Thomas Pieters, Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee and Spain’s Adrian Otaegui.

Woodsome Hall’s Chris Hanson got to five under when he birdied the 15th, having already grabbed four birdies in a six-hole stretch from the fourth.

But he double bogeyed the par-3 16th and bogeyed the last, although a sixth birdie went down on his card at the 17th for a three-under-par 68 that leaves him tied sixth.

Harrogate’s John Parry is on one over after a 72 that saw him battle back well after opening with three successive bogeys.

Masters champion Danny Willett, of Sheffield, double bogeyed the 18th after finding water with his approach to card a 75 and faces a second consecutive missed cut.

His fellow Sheffielder Matt Fitzpatrick, the British and Nordea Masters champion, is one shot better off after carding three bogeys, a double plus two birdies.

Malton’s Simon Dyson shot a 78 with just two birdies on his card, which were overwhelmed by seven bogeys and a double.

McIlroy has been putting in the hours on the range with coach Michael Bannon since an opening 77 in the US Open led to a first missed cut in a major championship since the 2013 Open. Asked what areas he was working on, the four-time major winner joked: “Have you got 10 minutes?

“My left-hand grip is too strong. Takeaway was going on the inside. Wasn’t holding my right elbow properly at the top of my swing. Wasn’t getting my right knee out of the way on the downswing... I’ve been working on a few things.

“I was joking with my friends at the weekend; I’ve got 17 swing thoughts down to about five, so I’m doing okay. Try to get that to two next week.”

Lee Westwood, who finished second to Willett at Augusta, shot 74, while two-time winner Graeme McDowell slumped to a nine-over-par 80.

Bjerregaard’s 66 contained a hole-in-one on the second hole from 202 yards and five birdies, despite playing with a new set of clubs after his own had been lost in transit.