The Open: Rory McIlroy rues 'dreadful' start at Royal Portrush
By Ali Stafford at Royal Portrush
Last Updated: 19/07/19 6:12am
Rory McIlroy admitted his hopes of a home victory at The Open are all-but over after a nightmare opening round at Royal Portrush.
The world No 3 arrived in Northern Ireland as the favourite to register a fifth major title, at the venue where he shot a course record as a 16-year-old, but finds himself 12 strokes off the pace after an erratic eight-over 79.
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McIlroy's start is his worst opening round of 2019 by four shots and leaves him struggling to make the cut in the final major of the year, having posted top-five finishes in his previous four Open appearances.
"It's just one of those days," McIlroy told Sky Sports. "I didn't hit it well enough, I didn't hit it in the right positions and put myself behind the eight-ball from the start.
"I thought if I could have got home in two over for the day I would've still been in the tournament, but the finish sort of derailed that. It was a tough day, a rough start and a rough finish and it added up to a pretty dreadful score."
McIlroy hit a wayward opening tee shot out of bounds, hitting a female spectator and damaging her phone, before having to take a drop from a bush on his way to a quadruple-bogey eight.
The 30-year-old bogeyed the third but responded to pick up shots at the seventh and ninth to turn in 39, with McIlroy then ending a run of pars with a three-putt double-bogey from less than six feet at the 16th.
Worse was to come at the par-four last, where McIlroy took two attempts to hack out of thick rough and then going long of the green on his way to a closing triple-bogey, equalling the worst opening-round score of his career at The Open.
"When you play your first and last holes in a combined seven over par you're making life tough for yourself!" McIlroy added. "I was understandably nervous on the first tee and it obviously wasn't the ideal start.
"But after that I felt like I battled back, showed some resilience with a couple of birdies at the end of the front nine and then held it together in some pretty tough conditions at the start of the back nine.
"I lost concentration a little bit after the missed par putt on 16 and then hit a tee shot a couple off the fairway at the last and got a dreadful lie. The support was fantastic out there for me today."
Watch The Open throughout the week live on Sky Sports' dedicated channel. Live coverage continues on Friday from 6.30am on Sky Sports The Open and Sky Sports Main Event.