After a marvelous six-under 66 in the first round, Rory McIlroy is the leader at the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. As usual, the 25-year-old came into the tournament as one of the stars to watch.
Through one day of play, he's proved to be as good as expected. Now the concern for McIlroy switches to the second round where he has notoriously struggled. Jason Sobel of the Golf Channel delivers the bucket of cold water:
I don't mean to be a downer here, but the last time Rory McIlroy led The Open after one round, he shot 80 the next day.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) July 17, 2014
When asked about his trend to nose dive after a solid start, McIlroy said this after play on Thursday, per T.J. Auclair of PGA.com (h/t ESPN):
I don't know what it is. Maybe I'm putting a little bit too much pressure on myself. I'm going to take it shot-by-shot. I know everyone says that, but that's what you've got to do.
The world will be watching to see if McIlroy can remain as solid on Friday.
Tiger Woods was almost as good as McIlroy in the first round. He shot a promising three-under 69, despite a two-bogey start early in the round.
If he can stay in contention heading into the weekend, the sport of golf and every media outlet will get exactly what they want: Tiger in the hunt for the final two rounds of play.
Here's a look at the updated and real-time leaderboard for the 2014 Open Championship:
The tee times for Friday's second round of play are already available. Here's a breakdown of the start times for every player, per the tournament's site, before the cut takes effect heading into the final two rounds of play.
1:25 a.m. (ET): James McLeary, Matthew Southgate, Hiroshi Iwata
1:36 a.m.: Roberto Castro, Victor Riu, Tyrrell Hatton
1:47 a.m.: Dong-Kyu Jang, Nick Watney, Shawn Stefani
1:58 a.m.: D.A. Points, Y.E. Yang, Brendan Steele
2:09 a.m.: Scott Stallings, Pablo Larrazabal, Bryden MacPherson
2:20 a.m.: George Coetzee, Charley Hoffman, Michael Hoey
2:31 a.m.: Kevin Streelman, Brendon de Jonge, Brendon Todd
2:42 a.m.: Gary Woodland, Sandy Lyle, Kevin Stadler
2:53 a.m.: Brandt Snedeker, Graham DeLaet, a-Cheng-Tsung Pan
3:04 a.m.: Boo Weekley, Danny Willett, Ashun Wu
3:15 a.m.: J.B. Holmes, Jonas Blixt, Chris Kirk
3:26 a.m.: Miguel Angel Jimenez, Bill Haas, Thongchai Jaidee
3:37 a.m.: Martin Kaymer, Jason Day, Zach Johnson
3:53 a.m.: Webb Simpson, Jamie Donaldson, Yusaku Miyazato
4:04 a.m.: Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Bubba Watson
4:15 a.m.: Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Russell Henley, Billy Horschel
4:26 a.m.: Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Jason Dufner
4:37 a.m.: Ryo Ishikawa, Lee Westwood, Keegan Bradley
4:48 a.m.: Kevin Na, Joost Luiten, John Senden
4:59 a.m.: John Daly, Tommy Fleetwood, Ross Fisher
5:10 a.m.: Mark Wiebe, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, a-Paul Dunne
5:21 a.m.: Oliver Fisher, Chesson Hadley, Shane Lowry
5:32 a.m.: George McNeill, Richard Sterne, Chris Stroud
5:43 a.m.: Gregory Bourdy, Jin Jeong, Matthew Baldwin
5:54 a.m.: Justin Walters, Rhys Enoch, Billy Hurley III
6:05 a.m.: Christopher Rodgers, Scott Jamieson, Byeong-Hun An
6:26 a.m.: David Howell, David Duval, Robert Karlsson
6:37 a.m.: Dawie van der Walt, Cameron Tringale, Masanori Kobayashi
6:48 a.m.: Chris Wood, Matt Jones, Bernd Wiesberger
6:59 a.m.: Erik Compton, Hyung-Sung Kim, Marc Leishman
7:10 a.m.: Koumei Oda, Ben Martin, Anirban Lahiri
7:21 a.m.: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Brooks Koepka, Edoardo Molinari
7:32 a.m.: Branden Grace, Freddie Jacobson, a-Ashley Chesters
7:43 a.m.: Justin Leonard, Ben Curtis, Paul Lawrie
7:54 a.m.: Francesco Molinari, Ryan Moore, Thorbjorn Olesen
8:05 a.m.: Matteo Manassero, a-Bradley Neil, Mikko Ilonen
8:16 a.m.: Thomas Bjorn, Patrick Reed, Stewart Cink
8:27 a.m.: Tom Watson, Jim Furyk, Darren Clarke
8:38 a.m.: Luke Donald, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia
8:54 a.m.: Harris English, Paul Casey, Matt Every
9:05 a.m.: Tiger Woods, Angel Cabrera, Henrik Stenson
9:16 a.m.: Charl Schwartzel, Padraig Harrington, K.J. Choi
9:27 a.m.: Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Jordan Spieth
9:38 a.m.: Ian Poulter, Dustin Johnson, Jimmy Walker
9:49 a.m.: Graeme McDowell, Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuzen
10 a.m.: Stephen Gallacher, Hunter Mahan, Victor Dubuisson
10:11 a.m.: Nick Faldo, Todd Hamilton, Mark Calcavecchia
10:22 a.m.: Ryan Palmer, Brett Rumford, Tomohiro Kondo
10:33 a.m.: John Singleton, Peter Uihlein, Marc Warren
10:44 a.m.: Paul McKechnie, Kristoffer Broberg, Juvic Pagunsan
10:55 a.m.: Rhein Gibson, Brian Harman, Hyung-Tae Kim
11:06 a.m.: Chris Hanson, Oscar Floren, Yoshinobu Tsukada
Most Intriguing Groups and Their Predicted Scores after Two Rounds
The Future—McIlroy, Matsuyama and Spieth
The young guns proved to be up to the challenge in the first round. McIlroy is the leader and the entire group is only separated by five shots going into Friday's second round.
If all three can remain in striking distance of the lead, their presence will add a great side story to the weekend's action.
Many expect these three to forge quite the rivalry in the sport over the next 10 years. The Open Championship might be a preview or an indication that the future is now.
- McIlroy 74 (-4 after two rounds)
- Matsuyama 71 (-4)
- Spieth 71 (-2)
Tiger's Club—Woods, Cabrera and Stenson
The attraction here is all about Tiger. Stenson snapped a club in half in a show of frustration en route to an even-par 72. He's not exactly out of it, but things aren't looking too swell for the Swede.
Cabrera's outlook at the tournament is even more bleak. He shot a four-over 76 on Thursday.
Don't worry. If Woods remains a threat through Friday, this group will get more than its share of attention.
- Woods 69 (-6)
- Stenson 70 (-2)
- Cabrera 72 (+4)
The Unsung—Donald, Fowler and Garcia
Not many people are talking about this grouping, but both Fowler and Garcia are in position to be heard from throughout the tournament. Donald is the only non-factor at one over par.
Fowler has had a good showing at the previous two majors. He was tied for fifth at the Masters and second at the U.S. Open. It may not be his time to win a big one, but he seems intent upon remaining a legitimate threat.
Garcia is four under par, but much like McIlroy, you always wait for the slip up with him. Talent is not the issue, it's his poise—or lack thereof. Mental toughness isn't genuinely tested until the weekend.
- Fowler 72 (-3)
- Garcia 70 (-6)
- Donald 72 (+1)