Thursday at The Open: JB tops a congested leaderboard, tough starts for Rory and Tiger, and Fox sets an Open record


Recapping the first round of the Open: From a tough start for Rory and Tiger to Ryan Fox's record, a 91 for David Duval and Justin Harding's tumble in the bunker

It was a dramatic opening round at Royal Portrush on Thursday as some of the favourites unexpectedly sruggled while J.B. Holmes grabbed the outright lead.

Here, we recap McIlroy's nightmare start (and end) that left him wanting to punch himself in the face, Tiger's woes, the record set by Ryan Fox, a bizarre day for David Duval and why Phil Mickelson's hard-reset didn't pay off. 

Plus, watch Emiliano Grillo's ace and Justin Harding's hilarious fall, find out who is in the hunt for the silver medal, and see which big names struggled in Ireland. 

J.B Holmes sets the pace after round 1

Shane Lowry held the clubhouse lead for most of the afternoon on -4, but a final-hole birdie put J.B. Holmes one shot ahead of the Irishman after 18 holes of the 148th Open Championship. 

"I hit it great," Holmes said after his opening round 66. "I didn't miss too many shots. When I did I missed them in the right spot. I putted well. Stuck to our game plan and just executed about as perfectly as I could do it.

"I've been practicing the last couple of weeks. I've been playing great. So actually felt great coming in. Like I said, my results didn't show that. But I felt very confident coming in. I was hitting it great. Putted well. I wasn't really surprised -- I mean, I played well."

Holmes started his day with a dropped shot at the first but recovered immediately with three birdies in his next four holes to get to two-under par as he chased a pack of players that included Jon Rahm and four-time major champion Brooks Koepka. 

He moved to three-under with a birdie on the par-five 12th, got to within one shot of Jon Rahm with a gain on the 14th, before solidifying his position as clubhouse leader with a mid-range birdie at the last to finish on -5. 

Like Koepka and plenty of other players before him, Rahm fell foul of the final few holes, following up a dropped shot on 15 with a final hole bogey to move back in to a 13-way tie for third place at 3-under with the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Tony Finau and Sergio Garcia. 

Behind them, Justin Rose is one of four players on -2, while Eddie Pepperell, Rickie Fowler Matt Kuchar, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth are some of 21 players that sit on -1. 


McIlroy suffers horror start on way to eight-over 79 

Rory McIlroy's hopes of lifting the Claret Jug in Northern Ireland took a big hit on Thursday when he pulled his opening tee shot out of bounds - cracking the phone of a female fan in the process. His next tee shot also missed the fairway, and after landing his next shot by the greenside fern bushes, he was forced to take an unplayable lie and two putted for a quadruple bogey eight. (click for story)

Things got worse for the 2014 Open Champion just two holes later when his tee shot bounced through the back of the green on the par-three 3rd, and he dropped to five-over-par after failing to get up and down. 

He briefly rallied, making birdies at both the 7th and 9th holes, to turn in three-over, and put together a spell of six straight pars before his round unravelled once again. 

First he three putted from a couple of feet for a double-bogey five on the famous Calamity Corner 16th, and then he found the thick rough by a stand with his approach shot on 18. The nightmare continued thereafter as he carded a triple-bogey to finish on eight-over-par – a whopping 13 shots behind first-round leader Shane Lowry.

“I would like to punch myself. I made a couple of stupid mistakes,” McIlroy told BBC Radio 5 Live. “I let myself down more than anyone else and need to pick myself back up.”

Ryan Fox makes Open scoring history with back-nine 29

Ryan Fox made six birdies in his final seven holes at Royal Portrush on Thursday to earn himself a spot in the history books as the first person ever to achieve the feat in an Open Championship.

Fox opened his round with a dropped shot at the first and things looked set to continue in that vein when he added further bogeys at the third and ninth holes to end up with a front nine of 39. 

But Fox improved that score by 10 shots on the back-nine, making four birdies in a row from 12-15 before adding two more on the final two holes to earn himself a new Open record with a 29 to finish with a three-under 68. 

Tiger admits he was 'sore' and headed for treatment after a 78 left him fighting to make the cut at The Open.

A downcast Tiger sparked fears for his health again after admitting he was “sore” and unable to swing the way he wanted as he stumbled to a seven-over 78 on the first round of The Open at Portrush.

The 15-time major champion, who headed straight for treatment after his media duties, faces a battle to make the cut after carding eight bogeys during an erratic display. He sits 12 shots behind leader JB Holmes and was noticeably despondent as he revealed the extent of his struggles before and during his round.

“I'm sore, yes. I'm sore. My warmup wasn't very good,” he explained. “I had a hard time moving. And just trying to piece together a swing that will get me around a golf course. Then all of a sudden I made probably one of the best pars you've ever seen on 1 today. That was a pretty good start. But it was kind of downhill from there.”

Tiger, who begins his second round at 10:09 on Friday morning, has only played three times since winning the Masters in April and revealed earlier this week that he didn't pick up a club for two weeks after the US Open.

“It's going to be a lot more difficult,” said Tiger, who managed just one birdie on Thursday. “I'm not 24 anymore. Life changes, life moves on. And I can't devote the hours to practice like I used to. Standing on the range, hitting balls for four or five hours, go play 36, come back, run four or five miles and then go to the gym. Those days are gone, okay?

“I have to be realistic about my expectations and hopefully peaking at the right time. I peaked at Augusta well. And hopefully I can peak a few more times this year.

I'm going to have days like this, and got to fight through it. And I fought through it. Unfortunately I did not post a very good score.”

Phil’s ‘Hard Reset’ isn’t paying-off

Phil Mickelson lost 15 pounds of weight in just six days as part of his Open preparation in what he called a ‘hard reset’ of his body in a bid to help him to get back to his best on the course.

It's an intriguing idea, but it's a move that hasn't paid off so far for the 2013 Open Champ. He mixed two birdies with seven bogeys during the opening round to finish with a five-over-par 76.

David Duval shoots 20-over-par 91 - with a 14! 

Rory McIlroy stole all the early headlines with an opening quadruple bogey eight at the 1st hole of Royal Portrush, but it wasn’t even close to the worst score of the day.

David Duval took those honours on the par-five 7th, with a nine-over-par 14 – the highest single score on one hole at an Open since 1950. It was originally marked down as an 8, then a 15, followed by a correction 13, before the R&A issued a final score adjustment hours after his round ended. It gives him a first round score of 91, 20-over-par.

"It was fairly unsettling, obviously," said Duval, who was two-under after two holes before his scorecard began to unravel. "I came in here obviously with fairly high hopes. I had some good practice. I played in Colorado last week, and although my scores weren't that good, I drove the ball like I used to drive the ball. And hit shots like normal. Everything was there.

"With that being said, at the same time I almost didn't play because the tendonitis in my left arm made it almost impossible to play. And then as the day progressed, because of some of the shots I had to hit, my arm got worse and worse. So it was just a downward spiral.

"Look, I wasn't hurt enough not to finish. You've known me long enough, unless I'm really hurt or sick, I post my score. That's just not something I've done as a professional. I've posted 85 twice, but never a 90. It was a long day, rough day.

"you have an obligation as a professional athlete if you play, you post your score. So, well, am I happy about that? Is there some, I don't know, embarrassment to it? I don't know. But I teed off in The Open and I shot 90 today, so put it on the board."

Portrush doesn’t play favourites: Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Marc Leishman among the victims to the links on day one

Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson weren’t the only well-known players who struggled on day one at Royal Portrush.

Tiger Woods warned us earlier in the week that his game wasn't 'as sharp' as he would have liked, but not many would have predicted he'd end up signing for a seven-over-par 78 on the first day of The Open. 

This year's Masters champion began his round with four pars in a row but they quickly slipped away from him as he dropped four shots in his next five holes to end up with a front-nine of 41 - which included an exasperated celebration for his solitary birdie of the day.

Adam Scott was widely tipped heading in to this week thanks to his recent form but instead he joined the list of major champions to end up well down the leaderboard after a seven-over -par 78 left him well out of contention. 

Marc Leishman was another player who unexpectedly struggled to a 78 (+7), while Padraig Harrington was among a big group of players on +4. 

Harding’s hard landing

South African Justin Harding provided some light comedy for spectators on the 5th hole. After hitting his shot from an awkward lie in the fairway bunker, he toppled backwards and landed on his backside. He quickly got up, hoping no one saw, but luckily for us it was all caught on camera.

Shot of the day

Emiliano Grillo wasted no time in bagging the first hole in one of the 2019 Open Championship - the first in this major since Louis Oosthuizen recorded one on the 14th hole at Royal Troon in 2016.

James Surgue leads challenge for the Silver Medal

Ireland's James Surgue has given himself a great chance of leaving his first Open Championship with the silver medal thanks to an opening level-par round of 72. 

Teeing off alongside Darren Clarke in the first group of the day, Surgue put himself in contention early with birdies at the second and sixth holes to get to -2. A bogey on the eighth briefly dropped him back before a birdie-bogey-birdie run from the 10th kept him near the top of the leaderboard. 

He would end up dropping shots at both the 16th and 17th holes for a level par round of 72, which is five shots behind clubhouse leader J.B. Holmes, and one clear of fellow amateur Curtis Knipes. 

"I was definitely the most nervous I've ever been on the golf course this morning when I looked up at the grandstand and it was just packed. And Darren walked on in front of me and the roar was just unbelievable.

"I was very nervous for the first and the second. I birdied the second, it set me in a little bit. And just enjoyed it really from there on in. All in all I'm fairly happy with the score."