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The Open 2019: Rory McIlroy explains what went wrong during his disastrous opening round

July 18, 2019

PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland — Rory McIlroy’s first round at the 2019 Open Championship couldn’t have gone any worse.

It was downhill from the start. His first shot of the tournament was a snap-hooked iron off the tee that bounded left of the fairway and out of bounds. That led to a quadruple-body eight. He missed a short putt on the next hole, then righted the ship somewhat before finishing double-bogey, par, triple bogey for an eight-over 79.

“It was obviously a disappointing day,” McIlroy said after his round.

Ultimately, it came down to three bad holes. Here’s how they happened, in Rory’s own words.

Snap Hook O.B. on the 1st

Rory’s first shot of the day on Thursday was actually a product of the first shot he hit at Royal Portrush the day before, during his practice round.

“I hit the ball out of bounds right yesterday on the practice round. That might have been in my head a little bit, not sort of wanting to leak it out to the right.”

A mental mistake, leading to a technical mistake.

“So I was trying to guard against that a little bit, and a little bit too much right hand and got the ball going left…Tee shots like the first happen, you can get one riding on the wind a little too much, that’s fine.”

Short Bogey Putt Miss on the 16th

Rory missed a very short putt on the par-3 16th hole for bogey. A classic mental error, he said, and that’s the shot he regrets the most.

“The putt was a 6-foot putt. And in normal conditions with not a lot of wind it was probably like a ball on the left. But the wind was hard off the right. I’m thinking, is the wind going to affect this or not? I still played it a ball on the left, and I missed it left. So as I’m walking up to hit the next one, I should have trusted the wind. I’m sort of talking to myself about the last putt. It’s not like my head is going to Kelly’s tonight or something. But I’m berating myself about the putt I just hit and went to tap it in and didn’t…The one that I’m disappointed about most is the little short putt on 16. That was inexcusable.”

Bad Luck on 18

Rory didn’t execute as well as he’d like on the 18th hole, but his triple there was also the product of some bad luck compounding those mistakes.

“On 18, I hit a tee shot that I knew wasn’t going to be in the fairway, but I didn’t think it was going to be quite as bad as it was. Tried to hack it out back to the fairway. It didn’t come out of the lie.”