McIlroy rips through a defenseless Old Course

By Doug FergusonJuly 16, 2010, 1:43 am

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – In the 137 years since the British Open first came to St. Andrews, the Old Course rarely has been such a pushover. Rarer still was the score Rory McIlroy delivered.

Whether it was the luck of the draw or his tantalizing talent really didn’t matter.

In conditions so calm that not a hair on his considerable mop was out of place, McIlroy set off on an incredible run into the record book Thursday with a 9-under 63 that gave him a two-shot lead.

“Going out there this morning with no wind, you’re never going to get St. Andrews playing any easier,” McIlroy said.

It was just as easy for John Daly, a former champion at St. Andrews and now the ultimate long shot. He first energized the gallery by bashing tee shots and making enough birdies for a 66, matching his best score in the British Open.

Rory McIlroy
McIlroy's first round 63 has him atop the leaderboard at The Open. (Getty Images)
And it was just as easy for Tiger Woods, who ran off three straight birdies late in his round for a 67.

“The old lady had no clothes on today,” Tom Watson said after a 73.

There were 45 rounds in the 60s, 73 players broke par and the average score was under par – 71.75.

No one took advantage like McIlroy, a 21-year-old from Northern Ireland with a game beyond his years. His 63 tied the lowest score in any major, and it was only the second such score at St. Andrews in golf’s oldest championship.

Of the eight players who have shot 63 in the British Open, McIlroy is the only one to do it in the first round.

“I’m very happy that I was able to take advantage of those conditions,” said McIlroy, who had a two-shot lead over Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa. “And it gives me a little bit of a buffer going into the next three days, whatever weather comes our way.”

It sure didn’t feel easy in the afternoon.

Not long after McIlroy finished his round, the leaden skies over St. Andrews Bay brought showers to the Old Course and a breeze that picked up strength the rest of the afternoon.

Of the 16 players atop the leaderboard, only Peter Hanson (66), Bradley Dredge (66), Lee Westwood (67) and Y.E. Yang (67) teed off after the wind showed up at noon.

“The difference for the early and late starters was huge,” Westwood said. “You could have kicked it round in a low score this morning. The course was defenseless, and I actually expected somebody to post a 62. I don’t think I have ever known St. Andrews as calm. Hopefully, we might get a break with the weather tomorrow morning, but you never know.”

Retief Goosen turned on his television just before 10 a.m. and saw Daly at 7-under par through 11 holes. The wind already was whipping flags when he teed off, and the two-time U.S. Open champion equated his 69 to a 66 had he played in the morning.

He bore no grudges. Such is the fickle nature of links golf.

“You’ve still got to make a score,” Goosen said. “It doesn’t matter how easy it is.”

Phil Mickelson didn’t make a birdie in the afternoon until making an 8-foot putt on the last hole for a 73, and walking off the course without speaking to reporters.

McIlroy’s amazing run began with a drive that he hit onto the green at the 352-yard ninth hole to about 15 feet below the hole. He knocked that in for birdie and was on his way. The freckled-face kid followed with a sand wedge to 6 feet on the 10th for birdie, a 7-iron to 8 feet for birdie on the 11th, and two putts from 50 feet on the short 12th hole.

It was so low – and so there for the taking – that even after a record-tying round, he thought about the one that got away.

McIlroy was 8 under when he flew his approach dangerously close over the Road Hole bunker on the 17th, leaving him a 5-foot birdie putt. Make that, and he goes to the 357-yard 18th with a shot at 62.

He missed.

“It sort of went through my mind on 17 that 62 would have been the lowest round in a major,” McIlroy said. “That’s probably why I missed the putt.”

He already shot a 62 earlier this year on a course that was far tougher than St. Andrews on Thursday – Quail Hollow for his first victory in America. It was another example why so many have predicted stardom for him. He also shot a 61 at Royal Portrush when he was 16.

This was different.

“I think it probably is the most special just because it’s at St. Andrews,” McIlroy said. “And it’s the Open Championship.”

Oosthuizen looked as though he might have a chance to join McIlroy. He also was at 8 under playing the 17th until making a bogey, then failing to pick up a stroke on the last hole and settling for a 65.

Not often does someone open with a 65 in a major and trail by two shots. This was not a typical opening round in a major.

“It just goes to show you that the golf course could have been had,” Woods said. “When I was playing either 17 or 18, to be in the top 10 you had to be 5 under. You don’t see that at too many majors.”

For Woods, it was the first time in eight rounds in an Open at St. Andrews – dating to July 20, 2000 – that he was not atop the leaderboard at the end of a round.

He made his move through the loop, then ended his string of three straight birdies on the par-5 14th. Woods was moving closer to the lead until he badly pulled a 4-foot par putt on the 17th, then missed a 10-foot birdie try on the last hole.

“I’m in good shape,” Woods said. “I took advantage of the golf course when I needed to take advantage of it. As of right now, we’re on the good side of the draw. But you don’t know tomorrow.”

Woods won the last two times on the Old Course by a combined 13 shots, and his bid to become the first player with three claret jugs at the home of golf is still in the picture.

Asked if he could catch McIlroy, Woods replied, “We’ve still got three more rounds.”

Five players were only three shots behind at 66, a group that includes Daly, who won at St. Andrews in 1995, the last time the weather acted up. Those in the large group with Woods included Westwood, PGA champion Y.E. Yang and former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover.

Defending champion Stewart Cink opened with a 70, despite catching St. Andrews lying down.

In the nine times McIlroy has competed at St. Andrews, as an amateur and a pro, he has broken 70 every time.

“I’ve actually never played St. Andrews when the weather has been that bad,” McIlroy said. “That’s probably why my scores have been quite good.”

Getty Images

Rose leads with play stopped in Indonesia; Snedeker withdraws

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


President at the Presidents Cup


Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


Cart on the green


Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National


Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.