America’s JB Holmes bagged the overnight lead on Thursday with a five-under-par 66 as Royal Portrush hosted The Open for the first time since 1951.
Here, we wrap up a turbulent first day on Northern Ireland’s north coast.
McIlroy shot 61 on this course as a 16-year-old. The 30-year-old first played the Dunluce Links aged 10, as a birthday present from his dad.
The Open’s first return to Northern Ireland in 68 years is dripping with socio-political significance, but for the likes of McIlroy, this is far more personal than that.
No matter what he said in advance about the wider context not pertaining solely to him, when he shanked it off the first tee his nerves had gripped him too tightly.
An eight on the first and a seven at the 18th spoiled not just his big day but also his tournament. Now the Holywood native will do well to make it to the weekend.
Portrush resident Darren Clarke enjoyed an unforgettable day on home soil, relishing in the honour of hitting the tournament’s first shot.
The 50-year-old was humbled to launch Royal Portrush’s first Open Championship since 1951, with Northern Ireland back on the global sporting map.
Clarke rattled three birdies in five holes, slotting home on the fifth in the shadow of his home. His eventual level par represented a hugely creditable return, setting an upbeat tone for the Portrush celebrations.
Reigning Masters champion Tiger Woods always knew wet weather could play havoc with his old back injuries and cause him troubles at Royal Portrush. And so it proved on day one, as the cold bit and Tiger grumbled rather than growled.
The 15-time major winner posted a shocking seven over par, including six bogeys, one double bogey and just one solitary birdie.
At the 15th, Woods sunk the ball in style, then spread his arms in effusive celebration. Extending that toast, he licked his finger and mimed a number-one sign. The 43-year-old will hope there is only one way to go from here.News Now - Sport News