By RALPH D. RUSSO
PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland (AP) — The Latest on first round of The British Open (all times local):
Rory McIlroy went out of bounds on his first shot of the British Open, then left his ball unplayable in thick brush near the green and ended up with a quadruple-bogey 8.
The 2014 champion holds the course record at Royal Portrush, shooting a 61 when he was 16 in the North of Ireland Amateur.
McIlroy went out of bounds left in an internal area of the course off the tee. After hitting his provisional left again into the rough, his approach cleared a bunker but landed in a patch of thick grass and he was forced to drop. He chipped onto the green but missed a 6-foot putt.
Heading into this year’s tournament, the first in Northern Ireland since Royal Portrush hosted the event in 1951, McIlroy was considered to be a strong contender for a second British Open title.
Emiliano Grillo hit the first hole-in-one of this year’s British Open.
The 26-year-old Argentine put his shot on the green and it pitched left, rolled down the bank and dropped in the hole on No. 13.
Grillo then threw his ball into the crowd at Royal Portrush.
The hole-in-one put Grillo at even par. He also put up three birdies on the front nine, but a triple bogey on the fourth hole and pair of other bogeys had left him at 2 over.
Early sun, clouds, a few raindrops, wind, even a rainbow. Royal Portrush has it all, and the British Open is not even three hours old.
Darren Clarke, who hit the opening tee for the first Open in his native Northern Ireland since 1951, made the turn in a sporty 2-under 34. His only blunder was a shot off the hosel of his club on the par-5 seventh that squirted so far right he had to take an unplayable lie from thick grass. He escaped with a bogey.
Clarke is the only player to have reached 3 under at any point. Two-time Open champion Padraig Harrington was among those at 2 under on the front nine. Phil Mickelson was struggling. He was 1 over through four holes but has yet to have a serious look at birdie.
Darren Clarke considered the opening tee shot on home soil to be an honor.
That doesn’t mean it was ceremonial.
The 50-year-old Clarke, whose game was honed at Royal Portrush as a junior, birdied the opening hole to throaty applause. And then he birdied the par-3 third and the tough fifth that runs out toward the North Atlantic.
That put him at 3 under heading to the sixth hole.
With only a light breeze and a links slightly softened by rain, Royal Portrush was not at its toughest. But of the 18 players to have completed one hole, five were under par.
Darren Clarke never hit a tee shot at Royal Portrush quite like this.
The silver claret jug on display next to him, Clarke hit the opening tee shot Thursday as the British Open returned to Irish soil for the first time in 68 years. And then it got even better for Clarke, the 50-year-old from Northern Ireland who now calls Portrush home.
He holed a 15-foot putt for birdie to start his round.
Clarke won the Open in 2011 at Royal St. George’s and did not hesitate when the R&A asked if he would be willing to be the first to play. He hasn’t received such a hearty reception on the opening tee since The K Club in Ireland in 2006 for the Ryder Cup.