McIlroy hangs in there after dream turns to nightmare

Home hero opens his British Open bid with quadruple bogey eight at the first

Rory McIlroy stands dejected during the first round of the British Open at Portrush. Photo: Paul Childs/Inpho

Rory McIlroy stands dejected during the first round of the British Open at Portrush. Photo: Paul Childs/Inpho

 

Rory McIlroy had waited years for the moment but, in a nanosecond, his first tee-shot in this 148th British Open turned his dreams of glory into an opening hole nightmare.

The world number three’s conservative play in opting to use an iron for safety off the first tee was undone in an instant when he pulled his shot beyond the white out-of-bounds line and forced to reload, playing three off the tee with his second shot.

And, again, McIlroy pulled his shot into rough from where his approach was tugged left into ferns and he was forced to take an unplayable lie. Less than 10 minutes into his round, and with all of his own expectations and those of the huge galleries who lined the fairways and filled the grandstands, the 30-year-old Co Down man’s great plans of dominance had unravelled.

McIlroy eventually ran up a quadruple bogey eight on the first hole, failed to birdie the Par 5 second and then hit his tee shot over the back of the green on the Par 3 third. His short game failed to rescue him, as he hit a lob wedge to 12 feet but missed the putt.

At that stage, five-over par through three holes, McIlroy was 65th of the 66 players who had started their first round: that statistic alone told the story of the horror hole into which he had fallen.

And it could have got even worse, as his 3-wood tee-shot on the Par 4 fifth hole – one within reach, downhill with the wind aiding – was pushed right into heavy rough. McIlroy’s ball was finally found, just within the three minute limit, with the help of marshals. He was given line of sight relief from the giant leaderboard but still had to drop into heavy rough, from where he hit out to 30 feet and successfully two-putted for par.

It took until the Par 5 seventh before McIlroy finally managed a smile, where he sank a 12 footer for his first birdie of the round to get back to four-over but still with a mountain to climb to get himself back into the championship.

McIlroy grabbed his second birdie of is round on the ninth, rolling in a 15 footer, to turn in three-over-par 39 and moving with a more confident gait as he headed into the back nine on his rescue mission.

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