Sat, 18 Jan 2020

Portrush - Home favourite Rory McIlroy made a nightmare start with an opening-hole quadruple-bogey on Thursday as the Open Championship returned to Northern Ireland and Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951.

LIVE: 148th Open Championship - Day 1

Organisers the R&A are anticipating the second-biggest ever Open attendance, with 237,750 expected to come through the gates this week, but spectators were left stunned by McIlroy's immediate collapse.

The four-time major champion, who fired a course-record 61 at Portrush at the age of just 16 in 2005, was given a huge reception on the first tee as the crowds huddled around the opening hole for a sight of the local hero.

However, cheers soon turned to stunned silence and then groans as McIlroy hooked his opening iron shot out of bounds, hitting a watching fan and reportedly breaking her mobile phone in the process.

The world number three then pulled his second shot from the tee into the rough, had to take a drop after finding an unplayable lie next to the green and two-putted to post an eight on the par-four first.

McIlroy's misfortune continued as he missed a birdie putt on the par-five second and carded another bogey on the third to drop to five over after just four holes.

There were cheers elsewhere on the Dunluce links early on as another Northern Irishman Darren Clarke, who hit the opening shot of the tournament, started brightly before hitting two bogeys in the final three holes for an ever par round of 71.

Argentina's Emiliano Grillo also got the crowds excited with the first hole in one of the championship on the par-three 13th.

Another Irishman, Shane Lowry took an early lead on four under alongside American Webb Simpson and Swede Alex Noren.

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