PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland – Rory McIlroy’s return to Royal Portrush couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start.
McIlroy hit his opening tee shot out-of-bounds and made an 8 on the first hole. That matched the highest single-hole score of his PGA TOUR career. It was just the fourth quad he’s made in more than 10,000 holes played on the PGA TOUR (he’s never made worse than a quadruple-bogey, either), and his second in a major.
It couldn’t have come at a worse time. Anticipation has been high for The Open’s return to Northern Ireland after an absence that lasted nearly seven decades. And anticipation was high for McIlroy, who not only set the course record when he was 16 but was enjoying one of the best seasons of his career.
McIlroy shot 61 at Royal Portrush when he was 16. On Thursday, he took his 61st stroke on the 15th hole.
He also triple-bogeyed the final hole and signed for a 79. McIlroy had finished in the top 5 in his last four Open Championships, including a victory in 2014.