action:article | category:SPORTS05 | adString:SPORTS05 | zoneID:90

Home » Sports » Golf

July 17. 2014 7:48PM

McIlroy leads British Open with 66; Woods three shots back


Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits from a bunker on the 16th hole during the first round of the British Open Championship at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, northern England on Thursday. (REUTERS/Toby Melville)


Tiger Woods of the U.S. reacts after missing a putt on the eighth green during the first round of the British Open Championship at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, northern England on Thursday. (REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton)

HOYLAKE, England (Reuters) — Golfing gunslingers Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods sprayed Royal Liverpool with a barrage of birdie bullets to steal the show in a thrilling opening round of the 143rd British Open on Thursday.

Northern Irishman McIlroy has developed a penchant for making fast starts and he did it yet again on a blisteringly hot day at the third major championship of the season, firing a pacesetting six-under-par 66.

Matteo Manassero was in second place on 67, one ahead of fellow Italians Francesco and Edoardo Molinari. Also at 68 were Americans Brooks Koepka and Jim Furyk as well as Spain’s Sergio Garcia, world number one Adam Scott and Ireland’s Shane Lowry.

Woods, playing in only his third competitive round since undergoing back surgery in March, confounded the critics who wrote off his chances, by shooting a 69.

The 14-time major winner made a poor start by bogeying the first two holes but it was almost vintage Tiger on the back nine as he went storming through the field with five birdies in six holes from the 11th.

The former world number one got his round going when he holed out from off the green at the 11th.

Woods then rattled in birdies at the 12th and 13th before dropping a stroke at the 14th following a hook off the tee into thick rough.

The 38-year-old American bounced straight back by sinking a 12-footer at the next hole. A delicate chip to 12 inches from the cup at the 16th gave him another birdie before a long-range effort lipped out on 17.

“I knew I could do it. I’m telling you guys it was so important for me to play at Congressional,” he told reporters, referring to his two comeback rounds at the Quicken Loans National event in Maryland last month.

“It felt good to be back out there competing again today. It wasn’t exactly the greatest of starts, bogeying the first two, and especially the second hole was a sloppy three-putt.

“Coming back after that start I had today, to fight myself back into the championship. I feel pretty good about it.”

Woods did not, however, feel particularly good about some of the distractions from the amateur photographers among the 35,000 crowd and the professional snappers.

“There were a lot of cameras out there,” said the world number seven. “We were backing off a lot of shots and a lot of people were moving around — that was tough.

“Unfortunately people just don’t put their phones on silent or some of the professional guys were getting on the trigger a little early.”

It was McIlroy, though, who took the tournament by the scruff of the neck with some scintillating shot-making.

Taking advantage of benign scoring conditions on a flat course with few undulations, the twice major winner peppered the flag on the front nine.

McIlroy almost holed out with his second shot at the par-four second before converting putts of six and 14 feet for further birdies at the fifth and sixth.

The 25-year-old made more inroads on par at the 10th and 12th before enjoying an outrageous moment of good fortune at the 14th when he avoided trouble in the rough with a lucky bounce on to the fairway.

McIlroy did not drop a shot to par all day and a sixth and final birdie at the 16th took him to the top of the leaderboard.

“We had perfect scoring conditions out there this morning,” said the world number eight. “There wasn’t much wind.

“It started to pick up a little on the back nine but there were plenty of opportunities to make birdies and I was able to take a few of them.”

Playing in the heart of Liverpool Football Club country, it was perhaps no surprise that Manchester United fan McIlroy was on the receiving end of some Merseyside humour.

“I got terrific support even though I support United,” he laughed. “I took my hat off on 16 or 17 walking up the fairway and I heard someone say, ’Get a hair cut’.

“Apart from that the support was really great and hopefully I can give them a lot more to cheer about in the next few days.”

U.S. Masters winner Bubba Watson slumped to a 76 while defending champion Phil Mickelson carded a 74.

World number two Henrik Stenson and third-ranked Justin Rose had to settle for 72s and U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer signed for a 73 but the biggest hard-luck story belonged to Ernie Els who was playing alongside Watson and Mickelson.

The 44-year-old South African suffered a nightmare seven on the opening hole after driving his tee shot into the face of a spectator who was left covered in blood.

A shaken-up Els then missed two tiny putts on the green from inside 18 inches, one with a back-handed effort.

“I think I put a jinx on the group,” said the 2002 and 2012 British Open champion after ballooning to a 79.


  • Should professional sports teams impose penalties on athletes for behaviors unrelated to performance on the field?
  • Yes
  • 59%
  • No
  • 13%
  • Depends on offense
  • 28%
  • Total Votes: 64
 NH Sports Angle more
Links to news and happenings around the world of sports with a Granite State connection, updated daily.

Man found unconscious at Winchester Speedpark Saturday

Too young to drive, but old enough for NHMS

Police examine speed, possible horseplay in golf cart fatality

Mass. man, 27, dies in golf cart accident at The Links at Outlook

Hanover's Sarah Groff competes in the women's triathlon final during the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Hanover Olympian in spotlight at Las Vegas Super Sprint

FHL makes it official, team planned for Berlin will play in North Adams, Mass. instead

Can NH soccer star Charlie Davies make a comeback?

Inside NIKEs secret sports lab; born in Exeter, now located in Oregon.

Concord Monitor decries gender pay gap in professional tennis

FHL franchise slated for Berlin may go to North Adams, Mass. instead

Eagles' Kelly says he learned his offense by studying defense while at UNH

Former Concord area youth baseball coach sentenced to 30 more years in prison

Maine boxer Brandon Berry making Fight to Educate history

Hudson family, classmates working to keep Alvirne soccer standout Raul Stedile in U.S.

Israel unrest moves meet for NH swim star

Race date for Oxford 250 moved from July to Aug. 30 next year

NH's Groff a highlight for U.S. at ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final

Maine fighters Lamour, Berry on New Hampshire boxing card

Q&A with Matt Bonner as he weighs free agency

Keene State mum on suspension of veteran track coach

Morgan Andrews speaks: Notre Dame star undeterred by U.S. U-20 World Cup snub

Mo'ne Davis, and why no one should laugh at the idea of a woman in Major League Baseball

Curt Schilling says smokeless tobacco caused oral cancer

Bill Belichick: Eagles joint practices as productive as any

Big Knockout Boxing has grown from NH debut to Las Vegas attraction

MORE

 New Hampshire Events Calendar
    

    SHARE EVENTS FOR PUBLICATION, IT'S FREE!

Upcoming Events

 New Hampshire Business Directory

  

    ADD YOUR BUSINESS TODAY!