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History of The Open

Great Open Rounds


Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy Great Open Rounds

In 2010, a fresh-faced Rory McIlroy was making waves in the world of golf. Those waves became all the larger after the first round of The 139th Open at St Andrews.

The 21-year-old had won his first PGA Tour event just two months earlier, and was quickly building a stellar reputation, thanks in part to his final-round 62 at Quail Hollow.

The young Northern Irishman was already a hot tip to take the next step in his career and win The Open, and his bid got off to a wonderful start with a stunning 63 at St Andrews, which made sure his was the name on the lips of every golf fan.

McIlroy had a solid one-under-par score through eight holes, but he was awaiting a spark. However, an exceptional drive on the short par-4 ninth then set up an eagle, which saw the entire complexion of McIlroy’s day change.

"The round was going OK, you know, nothing special,” McIlroy said. “And then the eagle on nine really got me going.

"I just kicked on from there. I think that was the point where my round really got going."

What followed was truly superb. After eagling the ninth, the Ulsterman birdied 10, 11 and 12 to get to six under par.

Two further back-to-back birdies were collected on the par-5 14th and par-4 15th. Now an astonishing eight under with three to play, McIlroy not only held the lead, he also had an elusive 62 - a score nobody had previously registered at a major championship - in his sights.

After parring the 16th, he looked to have taken a step closer to a slice of history when he hit an astonishing second shot to three feet on the notoriously difficult 17th hole. Unfortunately, that particular flash of brilliance did not lead to another birdie, as the precocious talent missed the resulting putt.

McIlroy was not finished there, though, and another magnificent approach at the 18th enabled him to finish with a birdie and complete a record-tying 63 around the Old Course.

Rory McIlroy walks across the Swilcan Bridge at St Andrews

"It's nice to put my name on the (list of the) few guys who have shot 63 in majors,” McIlroy said after his round. “It would have been lovely to shoot 62, but I can't really complain!

“I love St Andrews in general, and I'm coming in here with a lot of great memories of playing round here before."

A painful second-round 80 effectively ended McIlroy’s hopes of Open glory in 2010, yet the man who would go on to be crowned Champion Golfer of the Year at Royal Liverpool four years later showed great spirit to fight back and finish in a tie for third behind runaway winner Louis Oosthuizen.

To this date, The 139th Open marks the only time McIlroy has played golf’s original major at St Andrews, and his stunning 63 stood as the joint-lowest round in Open history until Branden Grace went one better at Royal Birkdale in 2017.

Still, McIlroy’s brilliant first-round performance 11 years ago has yet to be topped around the Old Course in The Open Championship, and his display will forever live in many fans’ minds.