The Open 2014 leaderboard: Rory McIlroy wary of another Friday meltdown after masterly display

McIlroy holds a one-shot lead after day one


Oh, oh, look away. It’s Friday, and Rory McIlroy is leading The Open. Golf’s sharpest shooter on Thursdays invites doom today after an opening 66. Ordinarily that is grounds for a party at Hoylake, but in McIlroy’s case it is a prompt to hide behind the sofa.


By the time he tees it up this afternoon the world No 1 Adam Scott will have had the chance to augment his own impressive introduction. Scott flirted with hegemony after reaching the turn in four under par. His 68 leaves him one of six, including Sergio Garcia and Jim Furyk, who are two shots back. Matteo Manassero, who opened with a 67, will also be pressing an excellent case.

McIlroy sources his second-round neuroses to the Masters, where he fell away badly on the back nine, barely making the cut. He rolled out his subsequent trials in hypnotic detail, the traumas leaving scar tissue in the synapses serving the memory. But let us do as he suggests and look forward with optimism.

McIlroy is staying in a Wirral palazzo with a big back garden. He prescribed for himself not a session with a counsellor on Thursday afternoon but a kick-about with his mates, maybe watch the late starters come in on television, then dinner with his parents. He has, he believes, got today covered.

“Whenever I go out and play on Thursdays there’s not many expectations. You’re going out there and you’re trying to find a rhythm, and you’re just trying to play your way into the round. When you go back out on Friday after a good score, you know what you can do on the golf course. So you’re going out with some expectations.

“I think I’ve just got to approach it like that (Thursday), start off trying to hit solid shots the first few holes and play my way into the round, just like I did today. I hit some really good shots on the first holes and that gave me confidence and then I could go from there. That’s what I’ll be trying to do tomorrow.” 

His 66 was a golfing demonstration waiting to happen. Hoylake will never be more compliant, a sunny, windless morning stripping the course of its defences, at least when ranged against this Ulster blade. He almost holed his 6-iron approach at the second to leave a tap-in birdie. He was three under after six holes, by which time the rhythm of his flawless round was well and truly set.

Read more: McIlroy and Rose ready to lift British summer
Mickelson lead American charge for glory
Woods relies on pedigree to make the difference

Though the conditions did not allow for the quarter-miler off the tee that debuted last week in gusty Aberdeen, McIlroy was imperious off the tee, piping a beauty down 16 to set up his sixth and final birdie of the day. And how the audience loved it. There can surely be no finer feeling for a Briton than to parade before your own while leading the Open, even for a Manchester United fan in Liverpool country.

The presence of ex-United manager David Moyes on the premises clearly did not putt him off. The closest he came to hostile banter was the suggestion he get a haircut after removing his cap on the 17th tee. There was a lovely moment, too, as he threw his ball to a young lad by the 15th green. It was intercepted by a hirsute middle-aged figure with a slip fielder’s instincts. “Thank you very much,” he said. “That was for the kid,” McIlroy said with accompanying ‘look’, at which point beardy bloke meekly surrendered the bounty. “Thank you,” said McIlroy.

You would have thought John Singleton, the world’s most famous forklift truck driver, had shot a 66 of his own given the smile cracking his features on 18. Perhaps there are no downsides on days like these for a man who clocks on in Birkenhead at eight every morning.

Singleton held it all together with eight straight pars out of the box, and answered a bogey at the ninth with a birdie at the next. But six shots went coming home to leave him 12 off the lead on six over par. “I made a few bad swings, and made a few bad putts as well. But that happens. I’ve just got to go and sort it out tomorrow and play better.”

Woods hits from a bunker on the 18th hole Woods hits from a bunker on the 18th hole How could a son of the Wirral be disappointed contesting the greatest show on golfing earth in front of family, friends and pretty much the whole workforce at Advanced Electrical Varnishes. “Yes, it’s The Open, isn’t it? And it’s home as well. So it’s something special and I can keep that one with me for the rest of my life.

“I did okay for the first eight holes and then it just got crazy. To see all those guys, just to make the effort to come see me, it’s fantastic. They’re my mates. I spent a lot of my time with them. They’re there to support me. I’m not some big-time Charlie who’s going to win. Obviously I want to win, but I‘m just there to enjoy myself and soak it all up. And they came out to enjoy it with me, and have a little bit of banter.”

No-one dared attempt banter with 2012 champion Ernie Els following his shocker at the first, where he three-putted from one foot. Yes, that’s right, 12 inches. After missing his tap-in bogey, Els attempted a reverse putt with the back of his club as if he were in the Sunday medal and missed again. A triple bogey seven was the result, setting the tone for a seven-over-par 79.


Also in the Els group, Masters champion Bubba Watson was another who did not enjoy the best of days after a decent start. When Watson’s game is dialled into the demand he is awfully difficult to match but when his head goes and that self-taught swing starts to fail, a car crash is often the result. The triple bogey seven at the 11th, courtesy of a shanked wedge and an ugly three-putt, was the low point in a round of 76.

There was anger in there, too, as well as rank bad shots, Watson not best pleased with the size of the media retinue following the third member of his attachment, defending champion Phil Mickelson, from inside the ropes. “There are thousands of people in here. All I’m trying to do is play golf,” he moaned after said shank. Perhaps the crowd had learned that Bubba couldn’t name a Beatle. That’s a snub of Parisian proportions in these parts.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Arts and Entertainment
(L-R) Amanda Peet as Tina Morris, Melanie Lynskey as Michelle Pierson, Abby Ryder Fortson as Sophie Pierson, Mark Duplass as Brett Pierson and Steve Zissis as Alex Pappas in Togetherness
TV First US networks like HBO shook up drama - now it's comedy's turn
Pool with a view: the mMarina Bay Sands in Singapore
travel From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
The will of Helen Beatrix Heelis, better known as Beatrix Potter, was among those to be archived
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Nigel Farage: 'I don't know anybody in politics as poor as we are'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect