HOYLAKE, England – The last time Rory McIlroy held the first-round lead at the Open Championship, well, it didn’t turn out as he hoped.
“Finished third that year,” he said with a laugh Thursday, though how he arrived there was far more memorable.
After torching the Old Course at St. Andrews with a 9-under 63, the then-21-year-old followed up with an 80 to make the wrong kind of history. No player had ever shot so low and then so high in consecutive days at a major championship.
On Thursday, and in similarly benign conditions, McIlroy posted a bogey-free 66 that was the best score among the early wave.
“The 63 at St. Andrews was a better round of golf,” he said, “but there were similarities in there.”
Unfortunately for McIlroy, he might see similar conditions for the second round, too. In 2010, he was blown away when the wind gusted so strong that it forced an hour-long suspension of play.
The forecast for Friday isn’t that bad, but a steady 25-mph wind and a few rain showers could make scoring more difficult than in the opening round.
“I feel like I’m well-prepared this week for whatever the conditions,” he said. “I’ve practiced in windy conditions the last few weeks. I’ve practiced the shots that I might need for a bad day like (Friday) might be.”