Bogey nightmare for McIlroy

Sports | ASSOCIATED PRESS 19 Jul 2019

Rory McIlroy went out of bounds on his first shot of the British Open, then left his ball unplayable in thick brush near the green and ended up with a quadruple-bogey 8.

He then found the thick rough again, this time on No. 5, but he managed to save par with a chip on to the green and a pair of putts for a 4.

McIlroy came into the tournament as one of the favorites, partly because he set the course record at Royal Portrush when he was a 16-year-old amateur, shooting a 61. But he took a quadruple-bogey 8 on the first hole and then another bogey on the third to put him at 5 over - nine strokes behind leaders Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry, Alex Noren and Webb Simpson.

McIlroy went out of bounds left in an internal area of the course off the tee. After hitting his provisional left again into the rough, his approach cleared a bunker but landed in a patch of thick grass and he was forced to drop. He chipped on to the green but missed a 6-foot putt.

Heading into this year's tournament, the first in Northern Ireland since Royal Portrush hosted the event in 1951, McIlroy was considered to be a strong contender for a second British Open title.

Emiliano Grillo hit the first hole-in-one of this year's event. The 26-year-old Argentine put his shot on the green and it pitched left, rolled down the bank and dropped in the hole on No. 13. Grillo then threw his ball into the crowd.

Darren Clarke, who hit the opening tee, made the turn in a sporty 2-under 34.

His only blunder was a shot off the hosel of his club on the par-5 seventh that squirted so far right he had to take an unplayable lie from thick grass. He escaped with a bogey. Two-time Open champion Padraig Harrington was among those at 2 under on the front nine.

Clarke considered the opening tee shot on home soil to be an honor. That doesn't mean it was ceremonial.

The 50-year-old Clarke, whose game was honed at Royal Portrush as a junior, birdied the opening hole to throaty applause. And then he birdied the par-3 third and the tough fifth that runs out toward the North Atlantic.

That put him at 3 under heading to the sixth hole. With only a light breeze and a links slightly softened by rain, Royal Portrush was not at its toughest.

Clarke won the Open in 2011 at Royal St. George's and did not hesitate when the R&A asked if he would be willing to be the first to play. He hasn't received such a hearty reception on the opening tee since The K Club in Ireland in 2006 for the Ryder Cup.

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