Updated with McIlroy finishing
During Rory McIlroy’s record-setting run at the U.S. Open, Graeme McDowell left a note on his locker that asked, “What golf course are you playing?”
Today, at the British Open, the answer to that question would be “The one on planet Earth.”
McIlroy started the day with two bogeys and had another at 13, but managed to finished with a 1-over 71 for the day. The early leader in the clubhouse at Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England, is Thomas Bjorn, a 40-year-old from Denmark who fired a 5-under 65. Miguel Angel Jimenez, is in the clubhouse with a 66.
For McIlroy, the twin bogeys at the first were a slap of reality. In his last outing, he didn’t have a bogey — a double — until the 36th hole and won the U.S. Open last month at Congressional Country Club.
“You sort of say to yourself there’s 68 holes left in this golf tournament. There’s still an awful long way to go. It was nice to get a couple of bogeys out of the way early, so you’re not saying, ‘When’s the bogey going to eventually come?’ ” McIlroy told ESPN’s Trey Wingo. “I didn’t get off to the best of starts today, but felt like I hung in there and played the last 15 holes at 1-under par, which is pretty good.”
Bjorn is perhaps best remembered for what happened to him at the Open the last time it was in Sandwich, in 2003. He blew a three-shot lead with four holes left to play and Ben Curtis won the tournament. Naturally, that meltdown was the first thing he was asked about after completing his round. “A lot of people make a lot of things about that, but the only way I can play golf is to concentrate on the shot in front of me,” Bjorn said. “It never entered my mind.”
Bjorn was a late addition to the field, being selected this week when Vijay Singh withdrew because of back problems.
“It was a good day and I promised myself I’d go out and focus on every single shot ahead of me and go after every single shot and I did that,” Bjorn said. “I rolled in a few putts here and there. It turned out to be a day of just feeling really solid with everything I did.”