McIlroy struggles to 8-over 79 at The Open
Local favorite began opening round at Royal Portrush with quadruple-bogey 8
July 18, 2019
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
- Rory McIlroy said his struggles stemmed from not finding the fairway. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland – Rory McIlroy’s return to Royal Portrush couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start.
McIlroy hit his opening tee shot out-of-bounds and made an 8 on the first hole. That matched the highest single-hole score of his PGA TOUR career. It was just the fourth quad he’s made in more than 10,000 holes played on the PGA TOUR (he’s never made worse than a quadruple-bogey, either), and his second in a major.
It couldn’t have come at a worse time. Anticipation has been high for The Open’s return to Northern Ireland after an absence that lasted nearly seven decades. And anticipation was high for McIlroy, who not only set the course record when he was 16 but was enjoying one of the best seasons of his career.
McIlroy shot 61 at Royal Portrush when he was 16. On Thursday, he took his 61st stroke on the 15th hole.
He also triple-bogeyed the final hole and signed for a 79. McIlroy had finished in the top 5 in his last four Open Championships, including a victory in 2014.
He is third in the FedExCup after victories in this year’s PLAYERS and RBC Canadian Open. His hopes of lifting a second claret jug were all but dashed after his first hole of the championship, though.
Royal Portrush has internal O.B. that closely hugs the left side of the first and 18th holes. McIlroy’s ball was playable, but the area left of those holes is marked as out-of-bounds because it is land that the club did not own at one time. It was O.B. for the 1951 Open at Portrush and has remained that way. The first hole also has white stakes running down its right side.
“I hit the ball out of bounds right yesterday on the practice round,” he said. “That might have been in my head a little bit, not sort of wanting to leak it out to the right.”
McIlroy also missed a tap-in on the 16th hole before driving his ball into a tough lie on the 18th and failing to extricate it with his first attempt.
“I didn't put it in the fairway enough to play,” he said. “I kept saying that in the press conference yesterday, you need to put the ball in the fairway here if you want to do well. I didn't do that enough today to create enough scoring opportunities.”