British Open: Golfweek’s Geoff Shackelford talks about the Dunluce course at Royal Portrush and the famous 16th hole.
Golfweek, USA Today Network
The betting favorite and best hope for a Northern Irishman winning the British Open in its first playing here since 1951, essentially took himself out of contention almost as soon as his tournament started.
McIlroy steadied his game for the next 14 holes and edged to 3-over before a double-bogey on the par 3, 16th hole. He closed with calamitous triple on the par-4 18th and finished his day at 8-over, 79, in perhaps the most-disappointing round of his professional career.
“It was almost as if that first tee shot settled me down,” McIlroy said after his round to NBC’s Jimmy Roberts.
And it all went wrong so fast. Following a rousing first tee ovation, McIlroy pulled his first tee shot toward Royal Portrush’s unfortunately-placed internal out-of-bounds. The ball bounced once in bounds but easily bounced a few paces outside the white stakes.
Television replays showed McIlroy grimacing as officials sent confirmation that the ball finished out of play.
His provisional tee shot landed in a dreadful lie just off the first fairway, leaving a 150-yard second shot pulled left of the greenside bunker. McIlroy’s ball finished in one of the many low-growing ferns found in Portrush’s rough.
After a brief inspection, McIlroy decided to take an unplayable lie, his second penalty stroke on the 421-yard starting hole.
The 30-year-old then lobbed a sand wedge over the deep greenside bunker to about 7 feet. A missed putt and McIlroy was 4-over-par after one hole.
McIlroy opened the tournament as the 8-1 betting favorite and immediately moved to 33-1 after his terrible start.