SANDWICH, ENGLAND — Rory McIlroy grew up in blustery Northern Ireland, honing his game in largely adverse conditions. But when the 22-year-old U.S. Open champion arrived at Royal St. George’s, where rain and wind intermittently rattled the British Open, he found the tournament not to his liking.
“I’m not a fan of golf tournaments that the outcome is predicted so much by the weather,” McIlroy said after closing with a 3-over-par 73 to finish at 7 over for the tournament, in a tie for 25th. “It’s not my sort of golf.”
McIlroy’s round was marred first by a double bogey at the third, then when he took a penalty stroke at the seventh because his ball moved after he had addressed it on the putting surface. Thus, McIlroy took a bogey on what was the easiest hole on the course, and his week of frustration continued.
“You’re looking at an eight-foot birdie putt, and then all of a sudden it’s for a par,” McIlroy said, “and then you’re a bit scrambled and you miss it and end up making bogey.”
McIlroy led last year’s British Open after one round, when he shot 63 in pleasant conditions at St. Andrews. But he followed that with an 80 when the wind kicked up. Someone pointed out that if he is to win an Open, he will likely have to do so in a bit of foul weather.
“Either that or just wait for a year when the weather is nice,” McIlroy joked. “No, I mean my game is suited for basically every golf course and most conditions, but these conditions, I just don’t enjoy playing in, really. That’s the bottom line. I’d rather play when it’s 80 degrees and sunny and not much wind.”
That’s what’s ahead for McIlroy. After playing in the Irish Open at the end of this month, McIlroy will play in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Aug. 4-7 in Akron, Ohio, then the PGA Championship the following week at Atlanta Athletic Club.
At 61, Tom Watson was the oldest player in the field by nearly a decade. But he finished a solid showing with a 72 on Sunday and tied for 22nd at 6 over for the tournament.
“I didn’t have a lot of expectations coming in here,” Watson said, “but today I kind of found a little bit of something with my golf swing.”
Watson was also inspired, he said, by a pre-tournament trip to Normandy, across the English Channel in France, where he visited the U.S. cemetery in Pointe du Hoc and Omaha Beach, site of the D-Day invasion in World War II.
“It was very emotional,” he said. . . .
Tom Lewis, the 20-year-old Englishman who shared the first-round lead with Thomas Bjorn, closed with a 74 that included an eagle and a triple-bogey. Lewis finished the tournament at 9 over, three shots better than Peter Uihlein and good for low amateur. He made seven birdies in the first round but just four birdies and an eagle over the final three days.
“I don’t think I’ll be turning pro,” Lewis said. “I think I’ve got things to learn, as I’ve just lost by about 20 shots this week.”