Muirfield played very tough for the first round of The Open Championship.
Just ask Rory McIlroy.
The No. 2 golfer in the world had a horrific day on the links. McIlroy was only one over through the first nine holes, but the second nine were just hard to watch. He bogeyed four holes and double-bogeyed a pair. He did birdie two holes on the round, but they didn’t make much of a difference. McIlroy enters Friday at eight over.
McIlroy had trouble with all of his clubs on Thursday. He hit 35.7 percent of the fairways and 55.6 of greens in regulation. He also needed 3.4 putts per green in regulation. Those are pretty terrible numbers, especially coming from a golfer who has been so good in the past.
Dan Jenkins of Golf Digest made a crack about Rory’s new job:
Based on the way McIlroy played on Thursday and how he’s played the last few weeks, don’t expect to see the Rory who bounces back and makes the cut. Unless the course is much easier on Friday, there’s no way that McIlroy plays the weekend. He’ll likely have another terrible round and might even break a club or two.
Most of the bigger names in golf played better than McIlroy in the first round of the major championship, though. Here’s a recap of how they played on Thursday and what to expect from each of them during the second round of the tournament.
The Open Championship Complete Leaderboard
Lefty got off to a great start on Thursday, as he birdied two of the first three holes on the front nine. He did falter on the eighth hole, dropping a shot, but finished the opening nine holes at one under. He played about the same on the back nine, birdieing the 14th and 15th, and bogeying the 18th.
Phil Mickelson was very accurate throughout the round, which he finished at two under. He had a driving accuracy of 71.4 percent and hit 72.2 percent of the greens in regulation. While the greens were fast, he averaged just more than two putts per green in regulation.
Mickelson attributed his good round to playing early, according to Helen Ross of PGATour.com. He said that the conditions were “beyond difficult.” But Lefty kept his composure and played well enough to stay near the top. On Friday, expect him to be even better, as the course should play a little bit easier than it did on Day 1.
Adam Scott had a very interesting opening round at Muirfield. He bogeyed two of the first four holes, but birdied a pair to finish the front nine at even par. He bogeyed the 10th hole, but got into a rhythm where he went two under without a bogey from the 11th hole to the 17th. He bogeyed the 18th to finish Day 1 at even par.
The official Twitter account for the championship thinks that the picture below is a good one, but it’s rough that Scott was in the bunker in the first place:
While Scott was in the sand, he was pretty accurate throughout the day. He hit 78.6 percent of the fairways and two-thirds of the greens in regulation. His belly putter didn’t help his game too much on Thursday, as he averaged 2.6 putts per green in regulation. He is capable of playing better on Friday.
Through nine events on the PGA Tour this season, Scott has played an average of more than a shot better in the second round than in the first. That bodes well for what’s to come from him on Friday if that trend continues. Expect Scott to be under par on Friday, but he still may be far from the top of the leaderboard.
Aside from a pair of hiccups on the front nine, it was a very good day for the best golfer on the planet, Tiger Woods. Woods was one over through the opening nine holes, but quickly turned his day around on the back nine. There, he birdied four holes—and bogeyed one—to shoot three under, and two under for the round.
Woods was great on the par threes at Muirfield, shooting two under without bogeying any of the four shorter holes on the course. His putter was also very kind to him on Thursday. He averaged 2.3 putts per green in regulation and needed just one putt on 10 holes throughout the round.
If Woods can stay out of trouble early on Friday, he could be atop the leaderboard entering the weekend. It’s been quite some time since Tiger won a major championship, but with a good opening round, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him win No. 15 at The Open Championship. Expect another good round on Friday.
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