PORTRUSH – (Wire Service Report) – Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy shot an opening-round 79 at The Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland on Thursday, all but dashing dreams he’d win his first major title in five years in his home country.
“I would like to punch myself. I made a couple of stupid mistakes. I was pretty nervous on the first tee and hit a bad shot,” McIlroy said Thursday.
The World No. 3 entered the tournament as the favorite or co-favorite to win by most sportsbooks, but making the cut is not a guarantee after he opened with a quadruple-bogey on the par-4, 421-yard first hole.
The round got off to a disastrous start for the 30-year-old. His drive sailed out of bounds, into thick brush and he wound up with a quadruple-bogey 8.
McIlroy said he wasn’t rattled.
“It was almost as if that first tee shot settled me down a little bit,” he told the Golf Channel after the round. “It was like, ‘We can’t start much worse than this, so we might as well just get the head down and get going. I thought that I showed some resilience around the middle of the round. Made a couple of birdies, got it back a little bit. But, whenever you play your first and last holes in a combined 7-over par, it’s going to be a pretty tough day.”
He added a bogey on No. 3, a double bogey on No. 16 and a triple bogey at No. 18. Only two birdies sprinkled in the round kept him from an over-80 score.
He hit eight of 14 fairways and 11 of 18 greens and needed 32 putts to complete the round. This is the same course where as a 16-year-old amateur in 2005 he set the course record of 61.
That time, he didn’t have the weight of a nation on his shoulders, though he said he didn’t feel the extra pressure.
“I don’t think that was it. If anything, I think that people wanted it more for me than I … obviously I wanted it, and I wanted to play well,” he said.
He will enter Friday’s second round trying to make up some ground.
“I’m going to have to have a number in mind. I’d obviously love to be here for the weekend, and I need to shoot a pretty good score tomorrow for that to happen.,” he said.
The early leader on the day was Irishman Shane Lowry, who shot a 4-under 67. Six players trailed him by one shot, including Spain’s Sergio Garcia.
“It was tough all day,” said Garcia. “This course is playing difficult. It was quite breezy. So some tough holes out there. Obviously 18 we played into the wind and with rain, so that played really long.”
–Field Level Media