The 148th Open Royal Portrush
What they said
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The best quotes from Day One

There was drama everywhere you looked as the 68-year wait for The Open to return to Northern Ireland ended on Thursday and the battle for the Claret Jug began.

Royal Portrush provided plenty of thrills and spills in round one - and those in the thick of the action were not short of things to say after kicking off their bid to become Champion Golfer.

Rory looks on the bright side

There’s no getting around it. Rory McIlroy had a torrid time on his homecoming.

The 2014 Champion Golfer of the Year, playing in his home country of Northern Ireland, hit his opening tee shot out of bounds and finished with a quadruple bogey.

After suffering the worst possible start, the 30-year-old steadied the ship before unraveling again in the closing holes - including a triple bogey on the last - to card an eight-over-par 79.

But while dream of lifting the Claret Jug at Portrush now appears to be in tatters, McIlroy retained his sense of humour when asked whether there is a way back from his first round.

RoryStruggles

“Definitely a way back to Florida,” he said. “Look, 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.”

Special day for McDowell

Much like compatriot McIlroy, Graeme McDowell’s day was one of mixed emotions.

As much as he treasured the reception he received around his home course, the Portrush native concluded his round with five dropped shots over the final four holes.

He ultimately finished with a two-over 73, largely thanks to a triple-bogey seven on the 18th, but that did not stop McDowell from reflecting on an emotional day on the Dunluce Links.

“It was such a special day,” said the 39-year-old from US Open champion. “Getting off that first tee this morning, I literally had a tear in my eye. It was kind of cool stuff.

“And like I say, to conduct myself as well as I did all day and play as well as I did all day, and then to finish like that was - it hurts, you know, it hurts a lot, but it's golf.

“Listen, you've got to take the rough with the smooth and that was rough but hopefully there will be some more smooth ahead. I feel like it's certainly a round that got away from me.”

Hoffman amazed by crowds

America’s Charley Hoffman faced the imposing task of being grouped with home favourite Darren Clarke, who was the honourary starter for The 148th Open at Portrush.

Hoffman

“I don't take many photos on the golf course usually,” he said. “I took a photo of the line of people trying to get into the grandstands at 6.20am this morning.

“The fairway is nearly lined and obviously the grandstands were full. I teed off one year at the Masters behind Jack [Nicklaus], Gary [Player], and Arnold [Palmer]. 

“That was a cool tee shot to hit after, but this one, I think, topped it. Just the amount of respect that everybody has for Darren here, him growing up here, and I was just happy to be a part of it.”

Dream debut for MacIntyre

Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre showed no nerves as he enjoyed an Open debut to remember, fighting for the lead throughout his opening round as he posted a three-under 68.

The 22-year-old, playing with Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston, was level with clubhouse leader Shane Lowry before bogeying the 18th - but nothing was going to wipe the smile off his face.

“It was brilliant,” said MacIntyre, who turned pro two years ago. “Meeting Beef for the first time and the roar that erupted when Beef stepped on the tee, made me chuckle a wee bit. 

“It was a brilliant day all around. Enjoyed every bit of it. I'm watching [the leaderboard] every moment. Once I eagled the par-four, and on the par-three.

“I was talking to Greg, ‘We're leading The Open’. Don't get ahead of ourselves just now and keep doing what we're doing, enjoying it. I want to be in position come Sunday afternoon.”

Woods reflects on difficult day

Tiger Woods had a day on the course he will want to forget in a hurry.

The three-time Champion Golfer registered a double bogey and six bogeys as he posted a seven-over 78 - and Woods revealed he knew he was in trouble before the first hole.

“My warm-up wasn’t very good and I had a hard time moving and just trying to piece together a swing that will get me around a golf course,” the 15-time major champion admitted.

“And then all of a sudden I made probably one of the best pars you've ever seen on one today. That was a pretty good start, but it was kind of downhill from there.”

He continued: “I'm not 24 anymore. Life changes, life moves on and I can't devote the hours to practice like I used to, standing on the range, hitting balls for four or five hours.”