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The Open day one: Portrush astir at nervous Rory and wounded Tiger

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, PA wraps up a turbulent first day on Northern Ireland’s north coast.Major meltdown scuppers home favourite RoryMcIlroy shot 61 on this course as a 16-year-old. The 30-year-old first played the …

Rory McIlroy, pictured, blew his chance of Open glory on home turf with a woeful opening-round 79 (Richard Sellers/PA)
Rory McIlroy, pictured, blew his chance of Open glory on home turf with a woeful opening-round 79 (Richard Sellers/PA)

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, PA wraps up a turbulent first day on Northern Ireland’s north coast.

Major meltdown scuppers home favourite Rory

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Rory McIlroy, pictured, looks equal parts stunned and relieved at ending his awful round of 79 at Royal Portrush. (David Davies/PA)

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.

Tweet of the day

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.

Stat’s the way to do it

In 29, New Zealand’s Ryan Fox fired the lowest back-nine score in the history of The Open. The son of former All Blacks fly-half Grant got off to a flyer at Portrush.

Quote of the day

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Brooks Koepka, pictured, was stunned by the ferocity of the Northern Irish rain (Richard Sellers/PA)

“Sometimes they’d come a minute, minute-and-a-half. But standing on the two tee box, man, I felt like the world was going to end.”

American Brooks Koepka does not hold back when reviewing the variable weather patterns at Royal Portrush.

Woods gives it big licks

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.

PA

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