McIlroy makes nightmare start at Portrush with first-hole quadruple-bogey

Portrush (United Kingdom) (AFP) –


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

Organisers the R&A are expecting the second-biggest ever Open attendance, with 237,750 people estimated to come through the gates this week, but the spectators were left disappointed 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.

But he hooked his opening iron shot out of bounds by just a few feet, hitting a watching fan in the process, before pulling his second shot from the tee into the rough.

McIlroy then had to take a drop after finding an unplayable lie next to the green, and eventually tapped in with his eighth stroke.

There were cheers elsewhere on the Dunluce links early on, though, as Northern Irishman Darren Clarke moved to two-under par after 15 holes.

The 50-year-old, who won the Claret Jug in 2011, reached the top of the leaderboard at three-under through five holes after striking the first tee shot of the tournament at 0535 GMT (0635 local), before mixing two bogeys with a birdie.

There was a four-way tie for the lead in the early stages, with Ireland's Shane Lowry, Charley Hoffman, Swede Alex Noren and Robert MacIntyre all reaching three-under.