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McIlroy Beans Spectator; Survives OB & Shoots 67
Rory McIlroy had a wild day on the links of Royal Lytham & St. Annes. The 23-year-old Northern Irishman enjoyed a relatively uneventful, two-birdie front nine to make the turn in 2-under 32.
But on the inward half in the opening round of the 141st Open Championship, the 2011 U.S. Open winner had a crazy up-and-down ride, carding four birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey on the par-4 15th hole when McIlroy's drive hit a spectator's head and his ball caromed out-of-bounds and was forced to re-tee. He still came in at 1-under 35 and his 67 is only three strokes behind 18-hole leader Adam Scott.
On No. 15 he conked 16-year-old Jason Blue of Bristol, England, sending his ball OB next to a portable trailer. "if he could have headed it the other way, it would have been in the fairway," quipped McIlroy.
Attending his first British Open, Blue suffered a cut on his noggin but wasn't seriously injured. McIlroy checked on the teenager's condition and handed Blue an autographed golf glove that said "Sorry" and included what McIlroy termed not a smiley face but "a sorry, sad face."
"The most important thing was that he was okay," said McIlroy. "Because I would have felt terrible if it had have been worse than what it was."
Here's what else McIlroy had to say during his post-round interview.
RORY McILROY: It was, yeah. Well, an eventful last four holes, anyway. Everything was going along pretty nicely, 3 under standing on the 15th tee. And I had 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.
Q. When you came back from the bogey on 10, you rolled in a great one on 12. Then you had the setback on 15 and you come back birdie, par, birdie. That was pretty encouraging for the week.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, for sure. I liked how I reacted out there. I bogeyed 10 from the middle of the fairway with a wedge in my hand, so that wasn't so good. And reacting to that unfortunate break on 15 the way I did, as well, is very pleasing.
Q. With the conditions you had, how important was it to get 67 in?
RORY McILROY: It was good. I think we had it maybe slightly tougher than the guys in the morning, and 67 was a score that I'm very pleased with.
Q. Overall how was your game today?
RORY McILROY: It was great. I felt like I didn't miss many fairways. I didn't miss many greens. I felt like it was pretty much under control. I missed a couple of shots, but you're not going to hit every shot good out there. I'd rate it pretty high at the moment.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, a little bit. But as I said, I just wanted to get off to a nice, steady start, which I did. I birdied 7 to get to 2 under. Yeah, I mean it's not going to be this easy for the rest of the week. So I'm happy with the score that I've shot, and it's a great position heading into the second day.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I mean I just - it was - yeah, I didn't realize that there was out-of-bounds over there. And, yeah, I mean it was only - it was out-of-bounds. They didn't even paint the white line. It was just post to post, so it was by a couple of inches, yeah.
RORY McILROY: Sorry, no. There's not much else you can say.
RORY McILROY: 20 yards.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, if he could have headed it the other way, it would have been in the fairway.
RORY McILROY: I've done it a few times before, so it's not the first time. The most important thing was that he was okay. Because I would have felt terrible if it had have been worse than what it was.
Q. How much does it help closing with a birdie?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, standing on the 16th tee, my goal is to get back to 3 under par for the day. And I was able to do that. So that birdie on 18 was it will make dinner taste very nice tonight.
RORY McILROY: It's a fair test. It's a very fair test. And I think it - on a golf course like this, the cream will rise to the top. And I think you're seeing that with the leaderboard today.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, yeah, maybe I think last year was okay. Maybe the years before that, the years previous when I started off. I might have fizzled out, I might have let it get to me. I realized it's only the first day and you have to - you have to take it as it comes. And that bad break on 15 was even - that's not going into the fairway bunker. So it swings in roundabouts.
Q. Were you shocked when you were told it was out-of-bounds?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I was a little shocked. But what can you do?
RORY McILROY: Couldn't tell you. But it's just one of those things.
Q. Besides the scoring, what's the best thing you take from today?
RORY McILROY: I think how under control I was for most of the day. From tee to green I thought off the tee I was very - I was very calm. My emotions were good out there. Everything was just - was feeling pretty good. So I'm very happy about that.
RORY McILROY: Not at all because it's only the first day. You're just trying to play well and put yourself into position going into Sunday. It doesn't matter what the leader is on on Thursday.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it's tough here, because if someone goes in the rough, it's not as simple as just hitting it back out and you're taking unplayables and it's tough. I know it probably did take a while out there. It felt pretty slow at times. But that's just the way the morning games went. It would be great if we were able to speed up a little bit.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I mean I think these are issues that have to be addressed because I think for - I think for spectators and fans, you don't want to sit and watch TV and guys not hitting shots and standing over their balls. You want to see it flow. I think it's definitely something we need to address because I don't think a round of golf should take over five hours.
RORY McILROY: He told me it was okay. That's all I can - he did, yes.
RORY McILROY: A glove. Sorry, smiley face, then my autograph (laughter). Sorry, like a sorry, sad face.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, exactly, yeah. That's one of those things.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.