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Tears with Clarke to anger with McDowell: Five emotions of The Open's first day at Royal Portrush

A full house enjoyed an enthralling first day at The Open Championship.
A full house enjoyed an enthralling first day at The Open Championship.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

It was an emotional rollercoaster of a first day as The Open Championship got under way at Royal Portrush.

Here's a look at five of the biggest twists and turns:

1. 'The Open is actually here' tears

It's fair to say it was an emotional occasion at 6.35am on Thursday morning, when 2011 Open winner Darren Clarke strode onto the first tee and crushed a ball down the fairway to get this thing under way.

Thousands of local fans had hauled themselves out of bed to make a real theatre of the first hole. If anything topped the tee shot itself, it was when he rattled home the birdie putt and raised his putter aloft, the gallery watching on with Portrush and its big wheel behind. Portmagic.

Clarke went on to deliver a performance befitting the occasion, level par for the day. While perhaps a little disappointed after going three under through five, it was a score that would look better and better as the day went on and leave him inside the top 50.

He looked emotional on the first and the 18th so was everybody else.

The Open had well and truly arrived.

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2. 'They're missing the cut, aren't they? tears

Probably, aye. Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are not looking very pretty. And that's sad.

It's sad that the world number three and the world number five will be making early exits on Royal Portrush's biggest week. It's sad that the two biggest attractions will not be here for the fans who will arrive on Saturday and Sunday.

These supporters love them. Walk one hole of that course with either of them and it's so clear. I walked round six holes with Tiger Woods and the man simply can't go past a group of fans without hearing his name screamed loudly, but affectionately, in his face. 'TIGER WOODS, THE GREATEST GOLFER IN THE WORLD', one bellowed. Not today.

Big rounds required tomorrow.

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Rory McIlroy blew his latest tilt at a second Open title with a woeful eight over 79 on Thursday (David Davies/PA)

3. 'Go on Padraig' forgiveness

Now hang on a minute. Last time I checked, Patrick Reed was the pantomime villain of European golf? What changed, when did it change and why wasn't I told about it?

During that dander round to watch Tiger play like me, I was struck by the support that Reed was getting from the local support. Alright it was led by one man in particular. But he didn't give up. He was at every hole, front and centre. How does he manage that in those big galleries anyway?

Anyway, every time Reed went to hit, he'd yell 'GO ON PADRAIG'. And then others would join in with shouts of support for the American. Are these people forgetting his Ryder Cup singles ding dong with Rory in 2016?

Nice to see, in all seriousness. Golf fans should be supporting everyone.

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Patrick Reed has proved an unlikely hit with the Portrush galleries.

4. 'How did they not find the ball? anger

Right enough, like. How was Graeme McDowell's ball not found inside three minutes on 18? It wasn't even that far off the fairway. It seems that, despite the thousands of fans lining the 18th, nobody saw it disappear into the rough on the right.

The fact that it was eventually discovered 12 seconds too late only added insult to injury.

I'm not blaming anyone, you understand. I was there myself and I didn't see it.

It's just so unfair. Graeme played so well, for so long, and finished two over. Today of all days to get that luck.

Fair play, McDowell smiled his way through his post-round press briefing and spoke maturely, calmly and admirably.

I was fuming on his behalf though. There were no expletives to sum it up.

Golf sucks sometimes.

5. 'Bring on tomorrow' excitement

It's been a long, exhausting, emotionally taxing day. Sure isn't that what makes it brilliant? The best golfers in the world are at Royal Portrush and we get to do it all again with them tomorrow.

Bring it on.

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Some say at the end of a rainbow, there's a pot of gold. In reality, it's Darren Clarke.

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