LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – Rory McIlroy was the victim of an unfortunate bounce in the opening round of the Open Championship, only to muster a bounce back of his own late in the day.
At 3 under on the 15th hole, the world’s No. 2-ranked player hit a drive that sailed a little to the right, hitting a spectator in the head and bounding some 20 yards before it was found a mere inches on the wrong side of the out of bounds line.
That led to double-bogey on the hole, but he birdied two of his last three to post a 3-under 67, just three strokes behind opening-round leader Adam Scott.
“Well, an eventful last four holes, anyway,” McIlroy said with a smile. “I hit a tee shot slightly right and I got an unfortunate break. But I thought I did well to keep my composure and keep my concentration and finish the way I did. I'm very pleased with that.”
Of the spectator that he hit, McIlroy handed him a glove on which he wrote, “Sorry!” followed by a sad face and his autograph.
“The most important thing was that he was OK, because I would have felt terrible if it had have been worse than what it was,” he said. “If he could have headed it the other way, it would have been in the fairway.”
After a third-place finish at St. Andrews two years ago, McIlroy finished T-25 in this event last year at Royal St. Georges, later grousing about the conditions.
Following Thursday’s round at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, he was nothing but complimentary of the course and optimistic about his chances going forward.
“It's not going to be this easy for the rest of the week,” he explained. “So I'm happy with the score that I've shot, and it's a great position heading into the second day.”