Rory McIlroy Shoots 2-Under in 1st Round of 2018 British Open

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJuly 19, 2018

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy plays out of the rough on the 6th hole during his first round on day one of The 147th Open golf Championship at Carnoustie, Scotland on July 19, 2018. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)        (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy had a solid start to his 2018 British Open on Thursday, carding a round of two-under 69 despite some struggles with his putter.

The 2014 champion did some great work with his approach play, especially on the back nine, and could challenge for the win if he can make some improvements to his short game. At the time of writing, the overall leader was Kevin Kisner, who is just three shots ahead of the Northern Irishman.

McIlroy will start his second round bright and early on Friday at Carnoustie Golf Links in Angus, Scotland, with his tee time scheduled for 7:52 a.m. BST (2:52 a.m. ET).

McIlroy's front nine was a frustrating one to watch, as the 29-year-old flashed his remarkable talent with some wonderful approach play and powerful stuff off the tee, but he always seemed to make a crucial mistake―usually with his putter.

He started his day with the driver and promptly found the bunker on the first hole, setting the stage for a what was to come.

The Northern Irishman would make his first birdie on the third after firing his tee-shot on the par-four past the green, and fans were hopeful it was the start of a run:

The McIlroy Legion @RoryLegion_GC

.@McIlroyRory birdies the 3rd! (-1) 🔥 #TheOpen https://t.co/pLGYCv4Q2D

But with his putter, the ball just wouldn't drop throughout the front nine, and after a poor approach shot on the fifth, he missed low to get back to par.

Things hardly improved at the start of the back nine, with his struggles perhaps best illustrated by the sequence on the 11th.

CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND - JULY 19:  Rory McIlroy of Ireland hits a shot from the rough during the first round of the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Club on July 19, 2018 in Carnoustie, Scotland.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

After finding the rough, he brilliantly solved the problem with a single swing, putting himself just five feet from birdie. The ball would horseshoe out, however, and he had to settle for par yet again.

But birdies on the 12th and 14th gave him some momentum, and Justin Ray of the Golf Channel noted it was sorely needed if he wishes to lift the Claret Jug on Sunday:

Justin Ray @JustinRayGC

The lower the scores, the better for Rory. McIlroy has never won an official event worldwide with a score worse than 12-under.

His putter also started to click, resulting in this excellent par effort on the 16th:

The European Tour @EuropeanTour

Rory McIlroy keeps a good round going with a lengthy par putt on 16. #TheOpen https://t.co/qGOLjBmo38

McIlroy would go par the rest of the way, carding a solid round of two-under that left him tied for eighth, with plenty of players still to finish.