The Open Championship R1

Brooks Koepka cruises into contention for Open as Rory McIlroy struggles

July 18-21
Royal Portrush GC, Portrush, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
$10,750,000
Live leaderboard
Round 2, Round 3, Round 4

World number one Brooks Koepka cruised into contention for a fifth major title in his last 10 starts as Rory McIlroy’s hopes of ending his five-year drought were effectively ended by two nightmare holes in the 148th Open.

The Open Championship R1 - Brooks Koepka cruises into contention for Open as Rory McIlroy struggles
Brooks Koepka carded an opening 68 in the 148th Open at Royal Portrush (Niall Carson/PA)

At the venue where he announced himself as a star of the future with a course record of 61 aged 16, McIlroy began with an eight and finished with a seven in a demoralising opening 79 at Royal Portrush.

At eight over par McIlroy was 13 shots off the pace set by American JB Holmes, whose 66 gave him a one-shot lead over Ireland’s Shane Lowry, with Koepka part of a 13-strong group which included Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre and the English trio of Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood.

McIlroy was not the only big name to struggle in the wind and rain, Masters champion Tiger Woods acknowledging his only birdie of the day on the 15th by licking his index finger and drawing a number one in the air in weary celebration.


Woods eventually signed for a 78 to card his highest opening round in 21 Open appearances, three shots higher than his previous worst of 75 in 1996 when he was still an amateur.

Koepka finished second in the Masters in April, successfully defended his US PGA title the following month and was runner-up to Gary Woodland in the US Open at Pebble Beach in June.

No player in the modern era has placed in the top two in all four majors in a calendar year, but the 29-year-old made the most of the local knowledge of his caddie Ricky Elliott, who hails from Portrush, as he carded four birdies and one bogey in his 68.

“Obviously he knows this golf course like the back of his hand,” Koepka said.

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“It’s fun. It’s easy when he’s just standing on the tee telling you to hit it in this spot and I just listen to him. I don’t have to think much.

“I’ve hit it unbelievable the last couple of days. I’m very pleased with the way I’m striking it. I feel good. I feel very comfortable. It’s a major championship. That’s what you’re trying to peak for.”

Lowry’s 67 was his best opening round in any major and came after a pub pep talk with his coach Neil Manchip on Wednesday.

“We went for a coffee down at the Bushmills Inn and we found a little quiet room, we had a great chat for about 40 minutes,” Lowry said.

“We just put everything out in the open, everything out on the table, what could happen, what might happen.

“I left that room full of confidence and ready to go and it’s my best (opening major round) by about eight shots.


“That was nice. It was nice to shoot a good score and hopefully I can go out and keep at it the next few days.”

New Zealand’s Ryan Fox was part of the large group on three under after firing six birdies in the last seven holes to card the first back nine of 29 in Open history.

“I’ve missed seven cuts in a row and to figure it out in a major is certainly nice,” Fox said. “It’s the first round in a while where I had some fun and some control over the golf ball.”

An understandably nervous McIlroy could certainly not say the same as he ran up a quadruple-bogey on the first after pulling his tee shot out of bounds on the 424-yard par four.

McIlroy’s wayward iron shot hit a female spectator and damaged a mobile phone in her pocket before ending up five feet outside the white posts which mark the internal out of bounds.

The Open Championship R1 - Brooks Koepka cruises into contention for Open as Rory McIlroy struggles
McIlroy looks for his ball on the fifth green (Niall Carson/PA)

The four-time major winner then found the left rough with his second attempt and hacked his fourth shot into a bush from where he took a penalty drop, chipped to seven feet and two-putted for a demoralising eight.

Another shot went at the third before McIlroy birdied the seventh and ninth to reach the turn in three over, but after six straight pars he three-putted from five feet to double bogey the 16th and then ran up a triple-bogey seven on the 18th to complete a miserable day.

“I’d be disappointed regardless, whether it was here or St Andrews or Birkdale or any of the other tournaments or majors,” McIlroy said.

“So, yeah, I’m disappointed, but at the end of the day I’m still the same person.

“I’m going to go back and see my family, see my friends, and hopefully they don’t think any less of me after a performance like that today. And I’ll dust myself off and come back out tomorrow and try to do better.”


Pos.
Player
Nat
To Par
R1
1
J. B. Holmes
USA
-5
66
2
Shane Lowry
IRL
-4
67
T3
Alexander Noren
SWE
-3
68
T3
Sergio Garcia
ESP
-3
68
T3
Webb Simpson
USA
-3
68
T3
Dylan Frittelli
RSA
-3
68
T3
Robert MacIntyre
SCO
-3
68
T3
Kiradech Aphibarnrat
THA
-3
68
T3
Ryan Fox
NZL
-3
68
T3
Tyrrell Hatton
ENG
-3
68
T3
Tommy Fleetwood
ENG
-3
68
T3
Brooks Koepka
USA
-3
68
T3
Lee Westwood
ENG
-3
68
T3
Tony Finau
USA
-3
68
T3
Jon Rahm
ESP
-3
68
T16
Romain Langasque
FRA
-2
69
T16
Justin Rose
ENG
-2
69
T16
Sang-Hyun Park
KOR
-2
69
T16
Ashton Turner
ENG
-2
69
T20
Charley Hoffman
USA
-1
70
T20
Andrew Putnam
USA
-1
70
T20
Eddie Pepperell
ENG
-1
70
T20
Branden Grace
RSA
-1
70
T20
Henrik Stenson
SWE
-1
70
T20
Bernd Wiesberger
AUT
-1
70
T20
Russell Knox
SCO
-1
70
T20
Kevin Kisner
USA
-1
70
T20
Rickie Fowler
USA
-1
70
T20
Si-Woo Kim
KOR
-1
70
T20
Callum Shinkwin
ENG
-1
70
T20
Rory Sabbatini
SVK
-1
70
T20
Erik Van Rooyen
RSA
-1
70
T20
Louis Oosthuizen
RSA
-1
70
T20
Shubhankar Sharma
IND
-1
70
T20
Jordan Spieth
USA
-1
70
T20
Cameron Smith
AUS
-1
70
T20
Lucas Bjerregaard
DNK
-1
70
T20
Jason Day
AUS
-1
70
T20
Matt Kuchar
USA
-1
70
T20
Patrick Cantlay
USA
-1
70
T20
Yuki Inamori
JPN
-1
70
T42
Darren Clarke
NIR
Par
71
T42
James Sugrue
IRL
Par
71
T42
Zander Lombard
RSA
Par
71
T42
Matthew Fitzpatrick
ENG
Par
71
T42
Sung-Jae Im
KOR
Par
71
T42
Hideki Matsuyama
JPN
Par
71
T42
Mikumu Horikawa
JPN
Par
71
T42
Justin Thomas
USA
Par
71
T42
Justin Harding
RSA
Par
71
T42
Ernie Els
RSA
Par
71
T42
Patrick Reed
USA
Par
71
T42
Doc Redman
USA
Par
71
T54
Bubba Watson
USA
1
72
T54
Curtis Knipes
ENG
1
72
T54
Mikko Korhonen
FIN
1
72
T54
Connor Syme
SCO
1
72
T54
Corey Conners
CAN
1
72
T54
Paul Casey
ENG
1
72
T54
In-Choon Hwang
KOR
1
72
T54
Thomas Pieters
BEL
1
72
T54
Thorbjorn Olesen
DEN
1
72
T54
Aaron Wise
USA
1
72
T54
Brandon Stone
RSA
1
72
T54
Lucas Glover
USA
1
72
T54
Nino Bertasio
ITA
1
72
T54
Abraham Ancer
USA
1
72
T54
Brian Harman
USA
1
72
T54
Dustin Johnson
USA
1
72
T54
Gunn Charoenkul
THA
1
72
T54
Yosuke Asaji
JPN
1
72
T72
Emiliano Grillo
ARG
2
73
T72
Alexander Levy
FRA
2
73
T72
Brandon Wu
USA
2
73
T72
Rafael Cabrera Bello
ESP
2
73
T72
Andrea Pavan
ITA
2
73
T72
Andrew Johnston
ENG
2
73
T72
Oliver Wilson
ENG
2
73
T72
Graeme McDowell
NIR
2
73
T72
Jim Furyk
USA
2
73
T72
Luke List
USA
2
73
T72
Benjamin Hebert
FRA
2
73
T72
Prom Meesawat
THA
2
73
T72
Byeong-Hun An
KOR
2
73
T72
Chris Wood
ENG
2
73
T72
Shaun Norris
RSA
2
73
T72
Chez Reavie
USA
2
73
T72
Takumi Kanaya
JPN
2
73
T72
Joost Luiten
NED
2
73
T72
Keegan Bradley
USA
2
73
T72
Matt Wallace
ENG
2
73
T72
Adrian Otaegui
ESP
2
73
T72
Patton Kizzire
USA
2
73
T94
Sung-Hoon Kang
KOR
3
74
T94
Christiaan Bezuidenhout
RSA
3
74
T94
Ryan Palmer
USA
3
74
T94
Xander Schauffele
USA
3
74
T94
Haotong Li
CHN
3
74
T94
Jason Kokrak
USA
3
74
T94
Zach Johnson
USA
3
74
T94
Bryson DeChambeau
USA
3
74
T94
Francesco Molinari
ITA
3
74
T94
Gary Woodland
USA
3
74
T94
Jimmy Walker
USA
3
74
T94
Stewart Cink
USA
3
74
T94
Kurt Kitayama
USA
3
74
T94
Jazz Janewattananond
THA
3
74
T94
Danny Willett
ENG
3
74
T94
Adam Hadwin
CAN
3
74
T94
David Lipsky
USA
3
74
T94
Brandt Snedeker
USA
3
74
T94
Doyeob Mun
KOR
3
74
T113
Chan Kim
USA
4
75
T113
Padraig Harrington
IRL
4
75
T113
Sam Locke
SCO
4
75
T113
Kyle Stanley
USA
4
75
T113
Ian Poulter
ENG
4
75
T113
Austin Connelly
CAN
4
75
T113
Paul Waring
ENG
4
75
T113
Nate Lashley
USA
4
75
T113
Jack Senior
ENG
4
75
T113
Adria Arnaus
ESP
4
75
T113
Keith Mitchell
USA
4
75
T113
Paul Lawrie
SCO
4
75
T113
Tom Lewis
ENG
4
75
T113
Isidro Benitez
MEX
4
75
T113
Yoshinori Fujimoto
JPN
4
75
T128
Andy Sullivan
ENG
5
76
T128
Matthias Schmid
5
76
T128
Phil Mickelson
USA
5
76
T128
Joaquin Niemann
CHI
5
76
T128
Jorge Campillo
ESP
5
76
T128
Joel Dahmen
USA
5
76
T128
Jake McLeod
AUS
5
76
T128
Dong-Kyu Jang
KOR
5
76
T128
Billy Horschel
USA
5
76
T128
Robert Rock
ENG
5
76
T128
Yuta Ikeda
JPN
5
76
T128
Andrew Wilson
ENG
5
76
T140
Michael Lorenzo-Vera
FRA
6
77
T140
Cheng Tsung Pan
TPE
6
77
T140
Alexander Bjoerk
SWE
6
77
T140
Kevin Streelman
USA
6
77
T144
Richard Sterne
RSA
7
78
T144
Adam Scott
AUS
7
78
T144
Matthew Baldwin
ENG
7
78
T144
Tom Lehman
USA
7
78
T144
Marc Leishman
AUS
7
78
T144
Tiger Woods
USA
7
78
T150
Rory McIlroy
NIR
8
79
T150
Garrick Porteous
ENG
8
79
152
Miguel Angel Jimenez
ESP
11
82
T153
Thomas Thurloway
ENG
12
83
T153
Shugo Imahira
JPN
12
83
T153
Dimitrios Papadatos
AUS
12
83
156
David Duval
USA
20
91