Pádraig Harrington the pick of the Irish at Scottish Open

Three-time Major winner three strokes off the lead as McIlroy endures frustrating day

Rory McIlroy endured an up and down opening day in the Scottish Open. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA

Rory McIlroy endured an up and down opening day in the Scottish Open. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA

 

A wild hook off the first tee was exactly the sort of start to his round that Rory McIlroy didn’t want in the abrdn Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club where, his game still out-of-sorts, he was very much the poor relation in a three-ball that also featured Justin Thomas and world number one Jon Rahm.

Thomas signed for an opening round 65 and US Open champion Rahmn, making his first appearance since claiming a breakthrough career Major at the US Open at Torrey Pines last month, opened with a 66.

For McIlroy, it was a matter of fighting to the end and that fortitude was rewarded with a birdie on the Par 3 17th and then a fighting par on the last, where his driver was again pulled left into a fairway bunker and he was required to hole a 10-footer to sign for an opening round 70, one-under, that left him in tied-73rd and faced with a battle to survive the cut in what is a final rehearsal for players’ games ahead of next week’s 149th Open at Royal St George’s in Kent.

“Rory obviously didn’t play very well for his standards and we know he can do better,” said Thomas, adding: “But Jon and I were kind of feeding off each other a little bit and just trying to stay in the tournament.”

Rahm, too, hit a poor opening tee shot after being taken by surprise by his introduction on the first tee. As he put it, “I’m not going to lie. I think I might have missed that first tee shot because I’m there with Rory, great player, JT, great player, and I get announced as world number one, Race to Dubai leader and US Open champion. They just said Rory McIlroy, JT, so I was just a little surprised by it. I didn’t expect it. My ego might have got a little too big, tried to hit a little too hard on one.”

Pádraig Harrington, who acts as player consultant to the host club among his corporate sponsorships, proved to be best of the Irish quintet in the field. The 49-year-old Dubliner started with back-to-back birdies at the 10th and 11th and added another on the 16th to turn in 32 before incurring his only bogey on the second and claiming another two birdies at the fifth and ninth holes.

Harrington’s 67 left him in tied-13th after the first round, while McIlroy and Cormac Sharvin (70s for tied-73rd) along with Graeme McDowell (73 for tied-131st) and Jonathan Caldwell (74 for tied-138th) face battles to make the cut.

England’s Jack Senior, ranked 353rd in the world, and whose biggest tour win came in the 2019 ISPS Handa World Invitational at Galgorm Castle, led after a fine seven-under-par 64 that gave him a one stroke lead over Thomas and Lee Westwood with Rahm in a nine-strong group a stroke further back.

“It’s a great field but at the end of the day, you’re still out there playing the golf course. It doesn’t matter how good the field is or anything like that. All you can do is control what you’re doing and try and do your best on the golf course and notbe particularly worried about the field,” said Senior, a product of the Challenge Tour.

Senior’s only top-10 this season came in the Lopesan Open in the Canary Islands earlier this season and he sought to take a measured approach to his role as first round leader: “It’s great to do it in the first round but it doesn’t matter what you do in the first round. You can’t win a golf tournament in the first round and you can’t lose a golf tournament in the first round. All I have to do the rest of the week is stick to the processes and try my best.”

Collated first round scores in the European Tour abrdn Scottish Open, The Renaissance Club, North Berwick (Britain & Irl unless stated, Par 71):

64 Jack Senior

65 Justin Thomas (USA), Lee Westwood

66 Jon Rahm (Spa), Matthew Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Ryan Palmer (USA), Ian Poulter, George Coetzee (Rsa), Thomas Detry (Bel), Alvaro Quiros (Spa), David Horsey

67 Xander Schauffele (USA), Sebastian Soederberg (Swe), Marcus Kinhult (Swe), Scott Hend (Aus), Wade Ormsby (Aus), David Law, Padraig Harrington, Richie Ramsay, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha), Jeff Winther (Den), Grant Forrest, Francesco Laporta (Ita), Oliver Farr, Connor Syme

68 Garrick Higgo (Rsa), Robert MacIntyre, Chris Wood, Marcus Armitage, Adrian Otaegui (Spa), Rasmus Hoejgaard (Den), Romain Langasque (Fra), Min-Woo Lee (Aus), Thomas Pieters (Bel), Graeme Storm, Benjamin Hebert (Fra), Jason Scrivener (Aus), Adria Arnaus (Spa), Joakim Lagergren (Swe), Soeren Kjeldsen (Den), Julien Guerrier (Fra), Jamie Donaldson, Matthew Jordan

69 Tyrrell Hatton, Will Zalatoris (USA), Victor Perez (Fra), Branden Grace (Rsa), Brandon Stone (Rsa), Lucas Herbert (Aus), Richard Bland, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), Mikko Korhonen (Fin), Richard McEvoy, Joost Luiten (Ned), Antoine Rozner (Fra), Callum Shinkwin, Renato Paratore (Ita), Matthew Southgate, Zander Lombard (Rsa), Andrew Johnston, Oliver Wilson, Justin Walters (Rsa), Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin), Matthieu Pavon (Fra), Oliver Fisher, Robert Rock, James Morrison, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra), Joel Stalter (Fra), Sebastian Heisele (Ger), Ricardo Santos (Por)

70 Collin Morikawa (USA), Rory McIlroy, Billy Horschel (USA), Matt Wallace, Sami Valimaki (Fin), Steven Brown, Stephen Gallacher, Eddie Pepperell, Alexander Levy (Fra), Shubhankar Sharma (Ind), Haotong Li (Chn), John Catlin (USA), Ryan Fox (Nzl), Thomas Bjorn (Den), Johannes Veerman (USA), Michael Lorenzo-Vera (Fra), Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn), Scott Jamieson, Nino Bertasio (Ita), Ross Fisher, Calum Hill, Cormac Sharvin, Darius van Driel (Ned)

71 Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa), Bernd Wiesberger (Aut), Aaron Rai, Kurt Kitayama (USA), Daniel van Tonder (Rsa), Andy Sullivan, Guido Migliozzi (Ita), Jimmy Walker (USA), Jordan Smith, Ignacio Elvira (Spa), Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry), Edoardo Molinari (Ita), Julian Suri (USA), Ashley Chesters, Sebastian Garcia (Spa), Rikard Karlberg (Swe), Darren Fichardt (Rsa)

72 Scottie Scheffler (USA), Sam Burns (USA), Laurie Canter, Henrik Stenson (Swe), Danny Willett, Justin Harding (Rsa), Alexander Bjoerk (Swe), Joachim B. Hansen (Den), Matthias Schwab (Aut), Gavin Green (Mal), Sean Crocker (USA), David Drysdale, Lorenzo Gagli (Ita), Victor Dubuisson (Fra), Thomas Aiken (Rsa), Marc Warren, Robin Roussel (Fra), Dale Whitnell

73 Francesco Molinari (Ita), Martin Kaymer (Ger), Dean Burmester (Rsa), Graeme McDowell, Sam Horsfield, Maximilian Kieffer (Ger), Peter Hanson (Swe)

74 Thorbjoern Olesen (Den), Jonathan Caldwell, Ross McGowan, Kalle Samooja (Fin), Haydn Porteous (Rsa), Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind)

75 Paul Waring, Jazz Janewattananond (Tha), David Howell, Adrian Meronk (Pol)

76 Corey Conners (Can), Jorge Campillo (Spa), Paul O’Hara, Maverick Antcliff (Aus)

77 Wilco Nienaber (Rsa), Pablo Larrazabal (Spa), Andrea Pavan (Ita), Lucas Bjerregaard (Den), Chris Paisley

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