The Open: McIlroy in contention as Woods struggles and Young shoots 64

By Sports Desk July 14, 2022

Cameron Young's blemish-free 64 led the way after the first round of the 150th Open Championship, with Rory McIlroy firmly in contention at St Andrews.

Tournament debutant Young, who finished in a tie for third at this year's US PGA Championship, made the turn in 31 and picked up three more strokes on the way in to close on eight under.

McIlroy, who was defending champion but missed out through injury the last time the home of golf hosted this event in 2015, birdied the 18th to sign for a 66.

Tiger Woods faces a struggle to make the cut after the 15-time major winner carded an error-strewn 78 that included a double-bogey six at the first.

Claret Jug holder Collin Morikawa is eight shots off the pace after an even-par 72, while world number one Scottie Scheffler looms large at four under.

A host of putative contenders failed to keep pace with the leading pack, with Jon Rahm one over alongside Brooks Koepka, while Justin Thomas was one stroke better off.

It was Paul Lawrie who had the honour of getting this landmark edition of golf's oldest major under way, and the Scot finished his round with an eagle to post a 74.

There was huge disappointment for 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, who was forced to withdraw after suffering a back injury.

SHOT OF THE DAY

There will be no shortage of lengthy eagle putts on offer this week, with several of the greens on the many par fours reachable off the tee.

Ian Poulter had one such opportunity on the ninth, his drive leaving him with a putt of around 160 feet which he duly sunk.

That miraculous shot will have helped to soothe the Englishman's pain at being booed on the first tee, a reaction to his decision to join LIV Golf – though he claimed not to hear any jeers.

PLAYER OF THE DAY

English amateur Barclay Brown put himself in some esteemed company at the top end of the leaderboard following a stellar 68.

The 21-year-old, who qualified with a three-stroke win at Hollinwell late last month, handled the occasion brilliantly as he sunk five birdies and just one bogey.

Brown finished four strokes better off than the next best amateurs, with Sam Bairstow and Keita Nakajima both even par.

CHIPPING IN

Paul Lawrie: "I was surprised how many people were there to be honest. I wasn't expecting that. I thought there would be a few, but the stand on the right was pretty full. Nice to see all the people. You always get great support here." 

Barclay Brown: "I was unbelievably nervous at the start. And then once I got through the first couple of holes, yeah, it was nice to kind of calm down a little bit and hit some good shots and just get into it."

Scottie Scheffler: "There's a few holes where I don't know if it's possible to even hit the fairway, like if you're going to take the bunkers out of play, you can't hit the fairway."

A LITTLE BIRDIE TOLD ME

- Since 1939, every winner at St Andrews has been within three shots of the lead after the first round.

- Tiger Woods' round took more than six hours, with the three-time Open winner teeing off in a group at 14:59 BST (local time) and taking his final shot of the day at 21:07.

- England's Matt Ford made his Open Championship debut at the age of 44 and signed for a 71.

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    Rory McIlroy is hoping to get his putter to "cooperate" at The Open Championship this week after two close-range misses cost him at the recent U.S. Open.

    McIlroy was in contention to end his 10-year major drought at Pinehurst last month, only to miss two putts from inside four feet on the last three holes of his final round.

    Those missed opportunities allowed Bryson DeChambeau to edge him out by one shot and claim his second U.S. Open title, having previously triumphed in 2020.

    McIlroy finished in a share of fourth at the Scottish Open last week, four shots behind winner Robert MacIntyre, as he again struggled on the greens.

    Speaking after the conclusion of his final round at The Renaissance Club, the world number two said getting his putting game into shape had been his main aim for the week.

    "The reason that I like to play the week before the majors is to knock a little bit of rust off and try to get sharp, and I feel like I've done that this week," McIlroy told the PGA Tour website.

    "If I can get the putter to cooperate and get the speed of the greens down... I feel like I'll be in a really good spot."

    Reflecting on his overall showing, McIlroy added: "I felt like the ball-striking was there pretty much every day.

    "There were a few scrappy bits here and there, but overall, it was a good week to see where my game is heading into next week, especially on the back of three weeks off.

    "Pleased with the week with one eye on trying to defend here, but obviously an eye on trying to get prepared for Troon as well."

  • MacIntyre gets 'the bit of luck you need' to win Scottish Open MacIntyre gets 'the bit of luck you need' to win Scottish Open

    Home favourite Robert MacIntyre admitted he got the "bit of luck that you need" to win the Scottish Open on Sunday.

    He was pipped to the title last year thanks to Rory McIlroy's superb finish, but produced a late show of his own heading into the final three holes at Renaissance Club.

    MacIntyre was helped by a huge slice of luck on the 16th hole, after discovering a sprinkler head near his ball in the heavy rough.

    The Scot took full advantage after getting a free drop, making an eagle on the par five thanks to a brilliant approach shot, which took him level with leader Adam Scott.

    Needing a birdie on the final hole to seal his second PGA win of 2024 - six weeks after triumphing at the Canadian Open - he holed from 20 feet to claim victory by a single stroke.

    "I think I lost my voice after the scream on that [18th] hole," MacIntyre told Sky Sports. "I thought I was short.

    "I've put a lot of work into this. I've changed a lot within the team, and I've just worked hard. I wanted the Scottish Open.

    "I got a bit of luck on 16 that you need - a bit of luck to win golf tournaments. I couldn't believe when I heard a sprinkler under my foot where my spike is at, and I'm like: 'no way'.

    "It was covered, and I thought I got lucky. It was meant to be."

    Scott had set the target of 67 as he looked to win his first title since February 2020.

    Defending champion McIlroy finished in a six-way tie for fourth on 14 under, carding 68 in the final round, with Ludvig Aberg, the leader at the halfway stage, also on the same score. 

  • McIlroy says Ryder Cup player-captains cannot work after Bradley appointment McIlroy says Ryder Cup player-captains cannot work after Bradley appointment

    Rory McIlroy was surprised by Keegan Bradley's appointment as the USA captain for the 2025 Ryder Cup, saying there is no way a player-captain role can work effectively.

    The PGA of America confirmed Bradley's appointment on Monday after Tiger Woods decided against leading the team at Bethpage Black golf course in New York.

    Bradley just missed out on the team for last year's 16.5-11.5 loss to Europe in Rome but was expected to be in contention for a place at the USA's home tournament, prompting several players to express surprise at his appointment.

    While McIlroy believes Bradley's experience of the course will benefit the USA, he is unsure what to make of the appointment.

    "It's a surprise for everyone. But he knows Bethpage very well. He went to university in the area. He's obviously very passionate about the Ryder Cup," McIlroy said.

    "It's certainly a departure from what the US have done over the last few years, and time will tell if that's a good thing or not."

    Asked if serving as a player and captain at the same time can ever work, McIlroy revealed he has rejected the chance to take on such a role for the 2027 event, which takes place in County Limerick, Ireland. 

    "Absolutely not," McIlroy said. "I've contemplated it for Adare but there's too much work that goes into it. I've seen what Luke [Donald] went through, preparing for Rome.

    "There's no way you can be as good a captain as you need to be and be a playing captain as well. If you want to be the best captain you can be, you can't play. 

    "If you want to be the best player, you can't captain. So it's one or the other, especially with how big the Ryder Cup has become and how many things you have to do in the lead-up.

    "Keegan is the 19th-ranked in the world so he has a great chance of making the team. If he does, I think he's going to have to give that captaincy role to one of the vice-captains."

    Europe will look to win the Ryder Cup on American soil for the first time since 2012 next year, with the event starting on September 25.

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