NORTHERN IRELAND’S Rory McIlroy admits he has had “about four” hangovers since his runaway US Open victory, but he will not be adding his slow start to the Open to the list.
The 22-year-old fell to two over par after only three holes but limited the damage with a solid round of 71 to leave him one over par and six shots off the lead.
“No hangover,” he insisted. “I struggled a bit with my speed all day on the greens, but it was a day where you just needed to grind out a score and anywhere around even par was a good start.
“On a day like this – I know better than most people – you can shoot a high number and put yourself out of the golf tournament, so it was nice to go out and shoot a decent score.”
Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, numbers one and two in the world, also shot first round totals of 71 as they were put in the shade by Danish veteran Thomas Bjorn who wasn’t sure of a place in the tournament until Monday.
Bjorn has been to hell and back since he blew the 2003 Open at Sandwich. The 40-year-old lost his father Ole after a long illness two months ago.
He is still grieving and it was too much for him when his passing was mentioned at his post-round press conference.
“He meant a lot to me,” said Bjorn before tears started flowing and, after asking for a moment to gather himself again, he added: “He would have been very proud of what I did today. That’s all I’ve really got to say.”
“A lot of people have asked me what I feel about the 2003 Open,” he added. “It’s in the past. I always look ahead – I’m 40 years old and there might just be a little bit more in me.”