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McIlroy rips through a defenseless Old Course

 Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy hits off the third tee during the first round of the British Open Golf Championship on the Old Course at St. Andrews,...
 Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy hits off the third tee during the first round of the British Open Golf Championship on the Old Course at St. Andrews,...

British Open Golf

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy hits off the third tee during the first round of the British Open Golf Championship on the Old Course at St. Andrews,...

British Open Golf

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy hits off the third tee during the first round of the British Open Golf Championship on the Old Course at St. Andrews,...

In the 137 years since the British Open first came to St. Andrews, the Old Course rarely has been such a pushover. Rarer still was the score Rory McIlroy delivered.
Whether it was the luck of the draw or his tantalizing talent really didn't matter.
In conditions so calm that not a hair on his considerable mop was out of place, McIlroy set off on an incredible run into the record book with a 9-under 63 that gave him a two-shot lead on Thursday.
"Going out there this morning with no wind, you're never going to get St. Andrews playing any easier," McIlroy said.
There were 45 rounds in the 60s, 73 players broke par and the average score was under par _ 71.75.
No one took advantage like McIlroy, a 21-year-old from Northern Ireland with a game beyond his years. His 63 tied the lowest score in any major, and it was only the second such score at St. Andrews in golf's oldest championship.
Of the eight players who have shot 63 in the British Open, McIlroy is the only one to do it in the first round.
"I'm very happy that I was able to take advantage of those conditions," said McIlroy, who had a two-shot lead over Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa. "And it gives me a little bit of a buffer going into the next three days, whatever weather comes our way."
McIlroy's amazing run began with a drive that he hit onto the green at the 352-yard ninth hole to about 15 feet below the hole. He knocked that in for birdie and was on his way. The freckled-face kid followed with a sand wedge to 6 feet on the 10th for birdie, a 7-iron to 8 feet for birdie on the 11th, and two putts from 50 feet on the short 12th hole.
It was so low _ and so there for the taking _ that even after a record-tying round, he thought about the one that got away.
McIlroy was 8 under when he flew his approach dangerously close over the Road Hole bunker on the 17th, leaving him a 5-foot birdie putt. Make that, and he goes to the 357-yard 18th with a shot at 62.
He missed.
"It sort of went through my mind on 17 that 62 would have been the lowest round in a major," McIlroy said. "That's probably why I missed the putt."
He already shot a 62 earlier this year on a course that was far tougher than St. Andrews on Thursday _ Quail Hollow for his first victory in America. It was another example why so many have predicted stardom for him. He also shot a 61 at Royal Portrush when he was 16.
This was different.
"I think it probably is the most special just because it's at St. Andrews," McIlroy said. "And it's the Open Championship."
In the nine times McIlroy has competed at St. Andrews, as an amateur and a pro, he has broken 70 every time.
"I've actually never played St. Andrews when the weather has been that bad," McIlroy said. "That's probably why my scores have been quite good."


Updated : 2020-12-04 22:11 GMT+08:00