Rory McIlroy was in cruise control, making four birdies in the first nine holes to grab a share of the lead at 4-under during his opening round at Royal Troon.
McIlroy, whose anti-Olympics comments dominated the conversation ahead of Thursday’s first round, let his clubs do the talking at the start, going out in 3-under 32.
Then came the par-4 13th, which featured a long approach shot and a three-putt from some 40 feet for an ugly double bogey from the world No. 4. He dropped another shot at the next and picked one up at 15.
An audible "Ugh" from the four-time major winner and visible frustration when birdie putts failed to drop on 16 and 18, though, said it all about a 2-under 69 that could have been so much better.
"When I turned in 4-under par, of course I was thinking maybe I could get a couple more," said McIlroy. "But I would have taken a 67 after the first nine holes and even 69 isn't too bad."
McIlroy’s partner-in-hell-no-we-won’t-go-to-Rio, Jordan Spieth, will look back on his Open Championship start and wonder what happened to his signature putting. Indeed, the short game was supposed to be the difference-maker for the two-time major champion.
For the Jordan cult: He had 18 putts on the front nine. Yes. Jordan Spieth did that.— Dan Jenkins (@danjenkinsgd) July 14, 2016
His ball-striking was better than it has been recently, though he sliced his tee shot way right and over the spectators’ heads on 18. A closing bogey ensued.
Spieth’s flat stick, though, was ice cold. After two early birdies in his first six holes, it took him until the par-3 17th to bury his third and last of the day.
Reed: 11 GIR ➡️ Shoots 66— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 14, 2016
Spieth: 16 GIR ➡️ Shoots 71 pic.twitter.com/bNqvTt3TmD
As McIlroy and Spieth were finishing up, U.S. Open champ Dustin Johnson was just getting started. We’re guessing D.J. would enjoy a mulligan after his wayward drive on No. 1 into waist-high hay forced him to call in a search party and resulted in an opening bogey.
Dustin Johnson (far left) leads search for wayward driver on first hole. Good luck. pic.twitter.com/Iz1pmo0dKo— Steve Elling (@EllingYelling) July 14, 2016
Meanwhile, Reed’s birdie at the last had him sitting in the catbird seat as the afternoon wave began.
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