Rory McIlroy in the limelight during Open warm-up

Rory McIlroy added another £20 to his millions today after he and Darren Clarke warmed up for The Open by beating defending champion Louis Oosthuizen and Masters winner Charl Schwartzel at Sandwich.

And one comment from a marshal was all it took to show who is now the first among equals.



As the four players reached the 15th green, many of the crowd following them took their places by the ropes leading to the next tee so they were in position to try for an autograph or a photo of golf's newest superstar.



"When he comes through be nice and courteous," said the marshal.



Among the quartet were three of the sport's four current major champions. Yet everybody knew who "he" was.



McIlroy is attracting the sort of attention once given to Tiger Woods - absent this year through injury - and he has adopted some of the methods too.



As Woods always used to, McIlroy went for a 6.30am tee-off time "to try to keep it a little bit low key" and he was off the course by 10am.



The main benefit of the round was that he had now seen Royal St George's in a different wind to the one he had encountered on his first trip to Kent last week.



"The seventh and 13th fairways were pretty tough to reach," said the 22-year-old. "If the wind stays like this they're going to have to move a couple of tees."



Because of the fast-running nature of the links, McIlroy has decided to put a two-iron into his bag for the first time, he reckoned, since he played in the 2007 Open at Carnoustie as an amateur.



It replaces a five-wood because he can keep the ball flight lower.



Fellow Northern Irishman Clarke said: "He's playing lovely and has got the ball under control - and it's always nice getting the South Africans' money.



The difficulty of the test ahead, though, was easy to see.



From just off the right-hand side of the 15th fairway, McIlroy hit his first approach into the bunker just short of the green and his next attempt went over the back.



Schwartzel, meanwhile, had hit his drive under the lip of a bunker and from there could advance his ball only a few yards.



On the downwind short next - the hole Thomas Bjorn double-bogeyed as he lost a three-shot lead in 2003 - Clarke's wedge found a bunker short of the green.



McIlroy missed a birdie putt from under four feet there and then, after driving only 50 yards short of the green on the 426-yard 17th - again downwind - his first two chip-and-runs both ran off the back edge.



That was not as bad as Schwartzel, though. From the left-hand rough he got a flyer which careered into the base of the spectator stand over the green.



Even with money on the line, it was all good fun. The serious business starts tomorrow.



PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?