PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland – Rory McIlroy’s last two tee shots on Royal Portrush’s opening hole have sailed out of bounds.
McIlroy blew his tee ball past the out-of-bounds stakes on the right during Wednesday’s practice round, and in the first round here his 2-iron rode the wind and required a reload.
“That might have been in my head a little bit,” he said.
It’s an unusual setup, with out of bounds just a few steps off both sides of the fairway on the opening hole. R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers explained Wednesday that there’s a triangle of land between the first and 18th holes that the club previously did not own, so the area was marked as out of bounds and the course was developed around it. Though the club now owns the land, Slumbers said, “We felt that was highly appropriate to do so this year as we’ve rebuilt the course. We try to stay true to how the course is played.”
One of McIlroy’s playing partners, Paul Casey, wasn’t even aware that there was OB right or left.
“I was here since Friday last week, and I now know,” Casey said. “I had no clue. Thank you for pointing that one out.”
McIlroy said he didn’t have a problem with the decision and merely hit a poor shot with a right-to-left wind.
“It’s the way it’s always been,” he said. “That didn’t really come into my thinking. I sort of leaked one right yesterday in the practice round, so I was trying to guard against that a little bit. A little bit too much right hand and got the ball going left.”
The opening quadruple-bogey 8 set the tone for McIlroy’s 79.