Rory McIlroy said European Ryder Cup team was in ‘disbelief’ when told about Keegan Bradley’s captaincy

Many wondered what Rory McIlroy’s game would look like after taking three weeks off following his disappointment at the U.S. Open where he played his final four holes 3 over to lose to Bryson DeChambeau by a shot.

He put those questions to bed Thursday morning.

This week’s defending champion posted an opening-round 5-under 65 at the Genesis Scottish Open and was tied for third after the morning wave.

McIlroy’s day began on The Renaissance Club’s 10th hole, where he made a birdie on the par 5. Although he gave it right back on the 11th, McIlroy added birdies on Nos. 14 and 16 to go out with a 1-under 34.

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After making the turn, the Northern Irishman got it going.

He hit his approach into the first — his 10th — to less than four feet and converted for birdie. After a par on No. 2, McIlroy chipped in from off the third green for an eagle to get to 4 under on the day.

He added his fifth circle to the card on No. 4 and would finish his day with five pars — McIlroy missed birdie putts of six feet, eight feet and 11 feet on Nos. 5, 6 and 9, respectively — to solidify his 5-under effort.

“My game has been feeling pretty good in practice over the last ten or so days since I picked the club back up,” he told the media Thursday afternoon. “Obviously, the last time I played, I played well. I didn’t get the result I wanted but I’ve still got a lot of confidence in my game.

“I went time-out there today, shot a solid score. A couple I would have liked to hole coming in and be a few shots lower but overall great start to the tournament. Yeah, I sort of picked up where I left off.”

On Tuesday, Keegan Bradley was announced as the United States Ryder Cup captain for the 2025 games at Bethpage Black in New York. It was a surprise for many around the game, including Bradley himself, and McIlroy was asked about the response from his European teammates.

“I think a surprise for everyone,” he said. “We had dinner in London on Sunday night with (European Ryder Cup captain) Luke (Donald), and he told us then. Yeah, it’s an interesting appointment. The youngest captain since Arnold Palmer, I think was a playing captain at 34. But he knows Bethpage very well. He went to university in the area. He’s obviously very passionate about the Ryder Cup.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s certainly a departure from what the U.S. have done over the last few years, and you know, time will tell if that’s a good thing or not.”

As for the mood in the room?

“I think disbelief, probably. I think Keegan was probably in disbelief, at some point, too, but certainly an interesting pick.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek