The Open 2019: Rory McIlroy implodes on horror opening day to forget as he finishes eight-over-par

The hometown favourite suffered a calamitous start at the course where he holds the record low score of 61, but his finish to the opening round was just as bad to leave him in a share for joint-last

Tom Kershaw
Royal Portrush
Thursday 18 July 2019 15:58
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The Open Championship in numbers

The question looming over this week was whether Rory McIlroy could withstand the pressure of playing an Open Championship in Northern Ireland. And it took just nine hours from the opening tee to reveal the answer in a resounding implosion.

Starting alongside US Open champion Gary Woodland and Paul Casey, McIlroy skewered an ugly tee-shot straight out of bounds to the disbelief of his supporters.

It set the tone for the ensuing round, which started with a quadruple-bogey and ended with a triple-bogey, with not a lot to shout about in between.

The Northern Irishman and favourite to clinch the Claret Jug saw his first shot strike a fan standing behind the boundary rope, cracking the screen of the mobile phone in her pocket in the process.

Clearly flustered after the enforced restart, the four-time major champion then found the rough – having chosen to play safe with a two-iron – and subsequently pulled his approach shot and was forced to take an unplayable lie after his ball settled in the fescue to the left of the green.

After a hapless recovery, he ultimately finished with a quadruple-bogey eight, which left him eight shots off the lead set by Ireland’s Shane Lowry and Open debutant Robert MacIntyre at four-under-par.

McIlroy searches for his ball in the fescue

This is, famously, the course where McIlroy set a record low score of 61 while he was still a teenager at 16 years old. But if any hope of rekindling that magic lingered deep within, his finish to the round will have left him asking what on earth he had done to deserve this desperate desertion of form - not to mention what he will need to make the weekend when the cut is made on Friday night.

A further bogey on the par-three third looked to be the worst of the round as McIlroy finished the front nine with birdies at seven and nine, hinting at a fightback on his way back to the clubhouse.

McIlroy takes a drop on the first hole at The Open on his way to a quadruple bogey

But it never materialised, and instead a steady stream of six consecutive pars were only ended by a double-bogey at 16 and a calamitous triple-bogey on the 18th and final hole, leaving only four others worse off than him in Dimitrios Papadatos (+9), Shugo Imahira (+11), amateur Thomas Thurloway (+12) and former world No 1 and 2001 Open champion David Duval, whose 19-over-par round included a penalty on the par-five seventh for playing the wrong ball that scored him a 13.

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