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Jordan Spieth hit a hot streak on the front nine to move to within one shot of the Open Championship lead.

The 2017 Champion Golfer of the Year, who signed for a modest 70 in Thursday's opening round, found his best form early on Friday to go six under for the tournament.

An eagle three at the seventh courtesy of a mammoth putt from off the green was the highlight of the American's scorecard as he played the first eight holes in 27.

Compatriot J.B. Holmes was the man to catch at the summit on seven under, with Englishman Tyrell Hatton at five under and four-time major winner Brooks Koepka headlining a huge chasing pack on three under.

Erik van Rooyen was another man to take advantage of the favourable conditions, climbing into contention on four under for the tournament alongside Tommy Fleetwood.

Tyrell Hatton made back-to-back birdies at Royal Portrush to join J.B. Holmes at the top of the Open Championship leaderboard.

After a run of four pars to start his second round, Hatton picked up shots at the fifth and sixth to improve to five under for the tournament.

That saw him move into a tie with overnight leader Holmes, who began his round with a par having dropped a shot at the first on Thursday before recovering to fire 66.

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka was one shot behind his American compatriot after a birdie at the second but he bogeyed the fourth and moved back to three under for the tournament, two strokes adrift of Holmes and Hatton.

Ryan Fox was unaware he was on the way to making history during his round as he produced the lowest back-nine score recorded at an Open on Thursday.

The New Zealander made an inauspicious start at Royal Portrush and was three over par through the front nine.

But Fox had a much happier time of it on the way home as he made six birdies and three pars, with his back-nine total of 29 setting a new benchmark in the famous tournament.

"It's pretty good considering how I started," said Fox, who is among 13 players two back of leader J. B. Holmes on three under. "I didn't know it at the time but it's nice to know it was a record.

"Sometimes you need something to click. I was getting frustrated over the first nine holes but then I changed my mindset and saw a few starting to go in."

Fox had been struggling for form heading into the final major of the year but was delighted to piece together a round that left him looking up the leaderboard to find his name.

"I'm just trying to get out of my own way at the moment – I've been a little bit down on myself, frustrated and thinking about the technical stuff too much," he added. 

"I've been trying to just enjoy myself and that finally worked. It's really hard to do – I've missed seven cuts in a row and been trying to do that for seven weeks.

"To figure it out in a major is certainly nice – there's a long way to go but it's the first round in a while where I had some fun and some control over the golf ball."

Jon Rahm is also well poised after matching Fox's round as he eyes a first major title.

The Spaniard, who finished an otherwise promising day with a bogey at the last, said: "I feel like I played two rounds out there today. Still a great score, my best score in an Open Championship.

"Obviously a really good first 12 holes. The only mistake was 11, it was still a decent shot, it wasn't that bad. It just got tough at the end, honestly.

"I feel really good off the tee. I think some of the shots coming in, there was just a little bit of commitment issue, maybe just lack of commitment on some of the shots.

"But besides that, the day has been pretty good. Good round. And feeling good. I mean it's a good start. You can't win the tournament today but you can lose it and I'm in good position for tomorrow."

It was an eventful start to proceedings at the 148th Open Championship, with some of the biggest names in the sport enduring a day of toil.

Royal Portrush was a hot ticket as the world's best golfers began their quest for the coveted Claret Jug.

There was sunshine, rain, wind and all sorts of drama out on the course.

As ever, Omnisport's reporters had their eyes peeled for some of things you may have missed, collecting the highlights into this bite-sized diary.

THINGS QUICKLY GO AWRY FOR RORY

It was quite an experience standing on the first hole when Rory McIlroy's name was announced to an expectant crowd, with the fans giving a typically deafening roar.

Sadly for McIlroy, who shot 61 at Portrush in 2005, things quickly went wrong. His opening tee shot veered out of bounds and smashed a fan's phone in the process.

A quadruple-bogey eight followed and it was a subdued crowd who witnessed their homegrown star trundle to the second tee, with the applause turning to little more than a polite smattering.

 

WONDER IF HE FOUND HIMSELF IN THE WOOF?

Plenty of players are jostling for the lead at The Open, but one good boy perhaps should have been kept more tightly on his...

A happy dog found his way on to a tee box and managed to escape the attentions of fans and officials trying to usher him back under the spectator ropes.

ARE YOU TAKING THE MIC? - DUVAL NOT IMPRESSED

Poor David Duval endured quite the day, kicking it off with back-to-back birdies before a quadruple bogey on the fifth and an eye-watering 14 on the seventh.

He played two provisional shots off the tee and then ended up continuing with the wrong ball, incurring a hefty penalty.

To his credit, the 2001 champion turned up for his mixed zone duties after his round of 91, but he was not keen to speak into the podium microphone.

First, he side-stepped the device altogether, but when it was thrust towards his face, the American swatted it away again.

Ryan Fox was unaware he was on the way to making history during his round as he produced the lowest back-nine score recorded at an Open on Thursday.

The New Zealander made an inauspicious start at Royal Portrush and was three over par through the front nine.

But Fox had a much happier time of it on the way home as he made six birdies and three pars, with his back-nine total of 29 setting a new benchmark in the famous tournament.

"It's pretty good considering how I started," said Fox, who is among 13 players two back of leader J. B. Holmes on three under. "I didn't know it at the time but it's nice to know it was a record.

"Sometimes you need something to click. I was getting frustrated over the first nine holes but then I changed my mindset and saw a few starting to go in."

Fox had been struggling for form heading into the final major of the year but was delighted to piece together a round that left him looking up the leaderboard to find his name.

"I'm just trying to get out of my own way at the moment – I've been a little bit down on myself, frustrated and thinking about the technical stuff too much," he added. 

"I've been trying to just enjoy myself and that finally worked. It's really hard to do – I've missed seven cuts in a row and been trying to do that for seven weeks.

"To figure it out in a major is certainly nice – there's a long way to go but it's the first round in a while where I had some fun and some control over the golf ball."

Jon Rahm is also well poised after matching Fox's round as he eyes a first major title.

The Spaniard, who finished an otherwise promising day with a bogey at the last, said: "I feel like I played two rounds out there today. Still a great score, my best score in an Open Championship.

"Obviously a really good first 12 holes. The only mistake was 11, it was still a decent shot, it wasn't that bad. It just got tough at the end, honestly.

"I feel really good off the tee. I think some of the shots coming in, there was just a little bit of commitment issue, maybe just lack of commitment on some of the shots.

"But besides that, the day has been pretty good. Good round. And feeling good. I mean it's a good start. You can't win the tournament today but you can lose it and I'm in good position for tomorrow."

J.B. Holmes surprisingly leads the way at the top of a tantalisingly tight leaderboard at The Open Championship, but it was a day to forget for Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods at Royal Portrush.

American Holmes, whose previous best finish at a major was third in the same tournament at Royal Troon three years ago, stands alone after a five-under-par 66 on Thursday.

That puts him one stroke clear of Shane Lowry, while Jon Rahm – in fine form after winning the Irish Open earlier this month – had reached five under before two late bogeys on the Dunluce Links left him in a mammoth clutch of 13 players in a tie for third.

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka is also lurking just two shots back, as are Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton and Ryan Fox, who came home in 29 strokes to set a new record for the lowest back-nine score in Open history.

But the cause of McIlroy, carrying the weight of home expectation at Portrush, already appears a lost one as the local favourite toiled to an eight-over 79.

Woods' chances of a fourth Claret Jug also seem damaged beyond repair, with the Masters champion badly out of touch en route to a score of 78.

McIlroy arrived at the first hole to a thunderous ovation, but he trudged off the green with a quadruple-bogey eight after an out-of-bounds tee shot – which broke a spectator's phone – and could not regain his composure.

Another bogey followed at the third and, despite a couple of birdies at the seventh and ninth, more misery was to follow on the closing holes. He three-putted on the 16th, fittingly named Calamity Corner, and finished with a triple-bogey seven.

It was left to Lowry to lay down the marker for the early starters on a morning where conditions were favourable for low scoring, the Irishman recording five birdies and just a solitary bogey to set the clubhouse target.

When heavy bursts of showers interspersed clear skies later in the day, Koepka – who has gone 2-1-2 in the majors in 2019 – got to four under by the 14th before a bogey at the penultimate hole slightly dented his progress.

Woods, meanwhile, dropped six shots between the fifth and 10th to tumble down the leaderboard. Another bogey arrived at 14 before a gain at the next offered temporary relief, with a dropped shot at the last compounding his misery.

Rahm, meanwhile, came flying out of the blocks, a huge crunch down the par-five second leading to his first birdie of the day before draining a 12-foot putt at the fourth for another.

Some wonderful approach play yielded three straight birdies to leave him five under by the turn but scoring proved trickier on the back nine, which he played at two over, including a costly bogey at the last after finding himself out of position.

Instead Holmes – who flew under the radar for much of the round – was the one to emerge from the congested pack.

He bogeyed his opening hole but was two under by the turn thanks to a trio of birdies at the second, third and fifth.

The way home proved just as fruitful as he picked up strokes at the 12th and 14th and 18th, the late gain enough to take the outright lead.

Brooks Koepka joked that caddie Ricky Elliott guided him on all 68 of his shots to start The Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

As a Portrush native, Elliott knows the links course as well as anybody involved in the tournament this week.

And his local knowledge certainly came in handy for four-time major winner Koepka, who began his tournament with a three-under-par 68 to sit two back of leader J.B. Holmes.

Asked how many shots Elliott guided him on during his press conference, Koepka drew laughter from the media by replying: "68 of them."

Koepka said nothing his caddie has mentioned to him this week has come as a surprise.

"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," he added. 

"I don't have to think much. I don't have to do anything. I figure out where the miss is and where I'm trying to put it and then go from there."

Koepka was among the later starters and was treated to heavy showers in between clear skies.

"I probably got poured on 10 times. Sometimes they'd come a minute, minute and a half and then other times - standing on the second tee box, man, I felt like the world was going to end," he said.

"Everybody else has got to deal with it. You just push on and see where I'm at and throw the rain gear on and hide under the umbrella a little bit, and when it's my turn, I'll just go out and hit one."

Tiger Woods was downbeat after a scrappy opening round at Royal Portrush that effectively ended his hopes of winning The Open.

The 15-time major winner conceded his body let him down as he carded a seven-over 78 on Thursday to sit 12 strokes off the summit.

He cited a lack of mobility after a day in which many of his shots went left of their intended target, making it a miserable outing in Northern Ireland for the Masters champion.

"I didn't do much out there," he admitted. "I hit a lot of missed shots, they were all left. Wasn't hitting it solid. Everything was off the heel. Just trying to scrape it around.

"I'm just not moving as well as I'd like and, unfortunately, you've got to be able to move, and especially under these conditions, shape the golf ball. And I didn't do it.

"It's just the way it is. Just Father Time and some procedures I've had over the time. That's just the way it's going to be."

The 43-year-old revealed in the build-up to the event that he was being much more selective with his schedule in order to extend his playing days.

But he said things did not feel right even before he got going at the Dunluce Links.

"One of the reasons why I'm playing less tournaments this year is that I can hopefully prolong my career, and be out here for a little bit longer," he said.

"My warm-up wasn't very good. I had a hard time moving. And [I was] just trying to piece together a swing that will get me around a golf course."

Woods said he would be going immediately for treatment but insisted he would return to play on Friday.

J.B. Holmes was delighted to execute his game plan to perfection to take a first-round lead at The Open.

The American, who finished third at the tournament in 2016, carded a 66 to sit one shot clear of Shane Lowry and a vast chasing pack a further stroke back

A birdie at the last was the icing on the cake for the 37-year-old, who felt all parts of his game were firing at Royal Portrush on Thursday.

"I hit it great. I didn't miss too many shots. When I did I missed them in the right spot," he said after a five-under round in which his only blemish came at the first.

"I putted well. Stuck to our game plan and just executed about as perfectly as I could do it."

There were times when the Dunluce track played like a typical links course, with the winds picking up and the rain lashing down, but Holmes enjoyed the challenge.

"You just have to accept the conditions over here and not get too greedy and go after some pins," he explained. 

"Try to hit it to the fat of the green, the middle of the green and hopefully make some putts.

"It's a lot different than we play in the States, you're firing at flags and everything else. Here you're trying to get it in the right spot on the green and make a putt."

His low-scoring exploits stand in stark contrast to a couple of the pre-tournament favourites, with home hope Rory McIlroy signing for a 79, while Tiger Woods only managed one better than the Northern Irishman.

In sport the greatest of dreams can instantly become the stuff of nightmares.

For Rory McIlroy, Thursday's Royal Portrush homecoming for the first round of The Open must have felt like that fabled dream where you're stood naked in front of a room of your peers, as his worst fears were laid bare in front of the world in a torrid round on the Dunluce links.

It simply wasn't supposed to be like this. It wasn't the narrative so many had expected or hoped for, even.

Addressing the media this week, McIlroy discussed how he did not feel like the centre of attention.

It was an admirable attempt at staying low key, but there was never any chance the focus of everyone's attentions at Portrush would not be on the four-time major winner.

Ever since he made a mockery of Portrush's reputation as one of the game's toughest links course as a 16-year-old with a startling course-record 61, McIlroy has been the man in these parts of the world.

But boy did Portrush have its revenge on Thursday and in the cruellest of fashions.

An almighty roar welcomed McIlroy onto the first tee as an expectant home crowd waited with bated breath to see what one of Northern Ireland's greatest sons would produce.

A spectator's broken phone as a result of McIlroy's opening wayward tee shot was a fitting metaphor for a round that fell to pieces from the off.

By the time he trudged off the opening green, having made an ugly quadruple eight, the smattering of almost apologetic applause told its own story. 

It was tough viewing as McIlroy scratched his way through the early holes. There was hope a recovery was on the way with birdies at the seventh and the ninth, and he went 12 holes without a bogey.

Yet, just like the showers that arrived at intermittent intervals, that hope proved brief as McIlroy three-putted inside five feet at the 16th – aptly named 'Calamity Corner' – before triple bogeying the last.

A clearly disappointed McIlroy put on a brave face and struck a determined tone, even allowing himself a little joke when asked if there was a way back to the cut mark from 79.

"Definitely a way back to Florida," he quipped. "I definitely think if I can put the ball in the fairway tomorrow I can shoot a good enough score to be around for the weekend. 

"Obviously I'm pretty sure anyone starting with a 79 in this golf tournament doesn't think about winning at this point. But I think I can go out there and shoot something in the mid-60s, be around for the weekend, and then try to play good from there."

Suggestions nerves due to the weight of expectation on his shoulders were a factor were quickly quashed by McIlroy.

"I don't think so. I was nervous on the first tee. But not nervous because of that. Nervous because it's an Open Championship," he added. 

"I usually get nervous on the first tee anyway, regardless of where it is. So maybe a little more so today than other places. But I don't think it was that. It was a bit of a tentative golf swing with a hard wind off to the right and the ball just got going left on me."

There is a sadly familiar pattern in golf's four biggest majors with McIlroy. He has 10 top-10 finishes since he won the last of his four majors at the 2014 US PGA Championship.

But there have not been many times he was genuinely in contention and this week – one of the most important McIlroy has had in his career – is surely now another lost cause.

Jon Rahm moved into the outright lead through nine holes of his opening round at The Open as Brooks Koepka shot into contention - but Tiger Woods endured a miserable day at Royal Portrush.

Spaniard Rahm, a man in form having won the Irish Open at the start of the month for the second time in his career, was in fine touch on the Dunluce Links.

Rahm made birdies at the second and fourth holes before picking up three straight gains before the turn to reach five under through nine, lifting him one clear of clubhouse leader Shane Lowry.

Koepka, who has gone 2-1-2 in the first three majors of 2019, was two under par by the turn and picked up further strokes at 12 and 14, which at the time left him in a share of the lead.

The four-time major winner dropped a shot at 17 to fall into a stacked pack at three under, a score Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Ryan Fox all achieved after 18 holes – the latter having recorded the lowest back nine in Open history with 29.

Woods was toiling much further down the leaderboard, though. The Masters champion went bogey, double bogey, bogey between the fifth and seventh holes.

He dropped further shots at the ninth and 10th and the American was six over with eight holes to play.

Earlier on Thursday, home favourite Rory McIlroy toiled to a 79 in front of an expectant crowd. He started with a quadruple-bogey eight and finished with a seven on the par-four 18th.

David Duval's dreadful day at Royal Portrush was made worse after a score adjustment turned his 13 at the seventh hole to a nine-over-par 14.

The 2001 Open champion began this year's tournament with back-to-back birdies, but that was not at all a sign of things to come as he dropped four shots at the fifth.

Duval then endured a nightmare of scarcely believable proportions at hole seven, with a statement from Open officials detailing the events which led to the double-figure number that eventually adorned his card.

"David lost his first two balls from the tee and then played the wrong ball for the third ball played from the tee," the statement read.

"On discovering the mistake at the green he had to return to where the wrong ball was played, but the correct ball could not be found.

"Therefore he had to play again for the fourth time under penalty of stroke and distance. He played six shots in completing the hole with the fourth ball from the tee.

"He incurred a two-shot penalty for playing the wrong ball but the strokes played with the wrong ball do not count in his score."

The high farce ultimately contributed, quite substantially, to a first-round score of 91 - that is 20 over par.

Speaking when he thought he had scored a mere 90, the 47-year-old - who batted away a podium microphone in the mixed zone - said: "The description was like that tee shot didn't count as a stroke because it was a wrong ball, so there was a two-stroke penalty. It was the wrong ball.

"Everything after that is null. Doesn't matter. The next shots don't count anyways.

"Then up on the front of the green we discovered it was the wrong number two Titleist. So I'm at fault. I didn't take a close enough.

"You know what, there's a lot bigger things than this. And honestly, I stood here starting this week knowing that I'm playing really well.

"I figured if some good things happened I could run top 20. And obviously I'll be in last place."

Rory McIlroy insists the disappointment of his nightmare start to The Open was not enhanced by it occurring at Royal Portrush.

It was an opening round to forget for McIlroy, who started with a quadruple-bogey eight and finished with a seven on the par-four 18th en route to an eight-over-par 79.

That was 12 behind early clubhouse leader Shane Lowry, while world number one Brooks Koepka was also at four under through 14 holes.

McIlroy's round did not follow the script for the local hero and he faces a monumental battle to even make the weekend for Portrush's first Open Championship since 1951.

"I'd be disappointed regardless, whether it was here or St Andrews or Birkdale or any of the other tournaments or majors," he said. "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. I'll dust myself off and come back out tomorrow and try to do better.

"I didn't give a very good account of myself out there and I can definitely play better, as all of you know. It's about doing the simple stuff - getting the ball in the fairway, missing it in the right spots if you do miss it. 

"The things I usually do pretty well I didn't do today and it made for a tough start."

McIlroy said his opening hole did not play on his mind and actually focused his game as he felt the situation could not get worse.

"It almost settled me down. It was almost like, well, that's sort of the worst that can happen. Put your head down and keep going," he added. "I'm not saying that it was the ideal start. But at that point what else can go wrong? 

"I just put my head down and tried to keep hitting good shots and I did that for the next 13 or 14 holes. I just let it go a little bit at the end."

Shane Lowry revealed a pep talk with his coach in a pub was behind his flying start to the Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

The Irishman was the early clubhouse leader after signing for a four-under-par 67 on the Dunluce Links in round one on Thursday, his lowest score in a major tournament.

Lowry had not been happy with his form in practice prior to the final major of 2019, but a heart-to-heart with Neil Manchip put him in the right frame of mind.

"I don't feel like practice went unbelievably well this week. I felt a little bit uncomfortable," Lowry said.

"I went to get a coffee down at the Bushmills Inn and we found a little quiet room, we had a great chat for about 40 minutes.

"I left that room full of confidence and ready to go. So, we just put everything out in the open, everything out on the table, what could happen, what might happen.

"To be honest, I really was feeling a bit uneasy about this week yesterday, I'm not going to lie.

"It was just a great chat. Obviously it would be great to do well this week and great to contend, but it's not the end of the world if it doesn't happen.

"It's the British Open, it's in Ireland. I'm playing well, I feel like I should come up and do well. Why shouldn't I feel uneasy?

"I'm sure there's plenty of golfers standing on the first tee feeling uneasy. You wouldn't be human if you weren't nervous or uneasy about playing in the biggest tournament in the world."

Sergio Garcia made a fine start to his Open campaign and by mid-afternoon was among a cluster of players one shot back of Lowry's score.

The Spaniard has 10 top-10 finishes at The Open and spoke of his love affair for the tournament.

He said: "I'm European, so you always relate to The Open the most and I love the crowds.

"The crowds are so amazing here, so respectful and so excited to watch us play."

Rory McIlroy was the pre-tournament favourite at Royal Portrush, but his Open Championship hopes went up in smoke after one hole.

Having been the focus of intense scrutiny in the build-up to the tournament on home soil, the Northern Irishman appeared to let the pressure get to him during Thursday's opening round.

As far less storied players made significantly easier work of the course and conditions, McIlroy toiled to an eight-over 79.

It was a study in the damage nerves can do to even the best this sport has to offer.

Here we take a look at the breakdown of a major meltdown.

 

HOLE 1 - THE NIGHTMARE START

The misery started with an out-of-bounds opening tee shot, which saw the cheers that greeted McIlroy onto the tee turn to gasps. His ball reportedly broke a spectator's phone and he only fared slightly better with his next attempt off the tee, finding the rough. From there McIlroy landed in a bush, took another drop, chipped to within eight feet but two-putted for an eight.

HOLES 3 & 5 - THE STRUGGLES CONTINUE

At the par-three third, McIlroy landed in thick rough over the back of the green. The chip out left him a sizeable putt that failed to reach the hole, leading to another dropped shot. Things threatened to get drastically worse at the fifth when McIlroy's errant tee shot was lost for a while behind a scoreboard screen. Having located his ball, McIlroy deposited it onto the green and almost made birdie, but had to settle for a scrappy par.

HOLES 7 & 9 - THE RECOVERY BEGINS?

At long last, some respite for Rory. He made his first gain of a difficult day at the seventh, a new hole for this championship, and followed it up with another birdie at the ninth to make the turn in 39.

HOLE 12 - THE UP AND DOWN

After achieving something resembling consistency for a good few holes, McIlroy's blemish-free run was under serious threat at the par-five 12th. He was buried in the rough to the left side of the green and could not control his third shot, which scuttled across the putting surface and off the other side. A tidy up and down ensured no damage was done.

HOLE 16 - THE LATE SETBACK

Despite being three over with three to play, McIlroy still had hopes of climbing back into a respectable position and had not dropped a shot since the third hole. But there was another gut punch to come for the 30-year-old, who three-putted from inside five feet for a double bogey at 16, the hole known as Calamity Corner.

HOLE 18 - THE FINAL HUMILIATION

The 18th hole provided one last dose of humiliation for McIlroy as he closed out with a triple-bogey seven. A miscued drive, a poor approach, a tentative putt - not one part of his game was firing as he carded a 79 to resign himself to a fifth full season without a major win, because surely there would be no way back from this.

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