The British Open: How the Claret Jug was won
Philip Reid looks back at Rory McIlroy’s performances over the four rounds at Hoylake
The main scoreboard showing the final result of the British Open. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters
Rory McIlroy plays a bunker shot on the 18th hole during the first round. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy plays from the rough on the fifth hole during the second round. Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy celebrates after a birdie on the 14th hole during the third round. Photograph: Gerry Penney/EPA
Rory McIlroy poses with the Claret Jug after winning the British Open at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters
Round 1 – Thursday, July 17th
There’s an old adage about the luck of the draw; there’s another about making your own luck: in the first round, Rory McIlroy took both of them to heart! On a day when the first wave of players benefited from the most favourable weather conditions, the Ulsterman was sublime in shooting a bogey-free opening round 66, six-under-par.
There was a strut about McIlroy, as he exuded confidence in everything he did. After each good shot, and there were many, the trademark twirl of the club in his hands confirmed the ball was on the correct flight-path. His first birdie came on the second hole and back-to-back birdies on the fifth and sixth contributed to him turning in 32 strokes.
In advance of the championship, McIlroy had targeted the Par 5s as key to success. He put his words into action, with birdies on the fifth, 10th and 16th holes - and the only Par 5 that he failed to conquer was the 18th, where he had to be satisfied with a par.
Round 2 – Friday, July 18th
McIlroy suffered his first bogey of the championship on the first hole of his second round, after hitting his approach over the back of the green. Fears of the so-called “Freaky Friday” syndrome? Not at all, for the player banished such a phobia with an accomplished second round of 66 for 132 that gave him the midway lead, by four strokes over Dustin Johnson.
That bogey was the only blemish on McIlroy’s scorecard.
He got his first of seven birdies of the round on the fifth – reaching the Par 5 in two and two-putting from 40 feet – and also took the breaks that came his way, particularly on the 14th where his tee-shot landed in the rough and somehow kicked back out onto the fairway.
McIlroy went about his business with aplomb, recovering from the opening bogey to claim birdies on the fifth, sixth an, the eighth. He turned in 33 and added further birdies on the 10th, 15th, 17th – where he hit a 396- yard drive – and completed his work with a finishing birdie on the 18th to show his dominance.
There was a calmness about his demeanour, an assuredness about all that he did. McIlroy said he was in the zone, revealing that he had two trigger words to keep him on the right track, mentally. “It’s just a state of mind where you think clearly. Everything seems to be on the right track. I’ve always said, whenever you play this well, you always wonder how you’ve played so badly before. And whenever you’ve play so badly, you always wonder how you play so well. Golf’s a very fickle game.”
Round 3 – Saturday, July 19th
When he needed to, as his old pal Rickie Fowler threatened at one stage to spoil the party, McIlroy moved up the gears and sped away from everyone.