Organisers the R&A are anticipating the second-biggest ever Open
attendance, with 237 750 people expected to come through the gates this
week in Northern Ireland, but spectators were left stunned by McIlroy's
He briefly battled back after a bogey at the par-three third hole,
but missed a tiny putt to double-bogey the 16th, tripled-bogeyed the
last and eventually carded a disastrous eight-over 79.
"I guess when you play your first and last holes in a combined seven over par you are starting on the back foot," said McIlroy.
The four-time major champion, who fired a course-record 61 at
Portrush at the age of just 16 in 2005, was given a huge reception on
the first tee as the crowds huddled around the opening hole for a sight
of the local hero.
But he quadrupled-bogeyed the first after hitting his tee shot out of bounds.
Woods saw his bid for a 16th major title all but come to a premature
end as he stuttered to a miserable seven-over 78, including six bogeys
and a double bogey at the par-three sixth.
The Masters champion's sole birdie of the day came at the par-four
15th, which he celebrated with an ironic raise of his arms, but he
fittingly finished his round with one last bogey.
Woods, who returned from spinal fusion surgery in December 2017, and McIlroy now face daunting tasks to try and make the cut.
"Wasn't hitting it solid. Everything was off the heel. Just trying to
scrape it around. Best I could do was seven-over," said Woods, who
admitted he was feeling "sore".
McIlroy is already 13
strokes adrift of leader Holmes -- with Woods one better off -- after
the 37-year-old birdied the 18th to post an excellent five-under 66 and
move one shot clear of previous leader Shane Lowry.
Holmes' previous best major finish was third at the 2016 Open and he
has missed eight cuts in his last 13 events, and withdrew from one of
"I've been practising the last couple of weeks. I've been playing
great. So actually felt great coming in," said the 55th-ranked Holmes.
Ireland's Lowry held the lead for much of the day before being
toppled by Holmes, having to settle for second place heading into
The world number 33, who made five birdies in his 67, admitted he
struggled to keep his nerves in check on the first tee, with the crowds
lending strong support to all six players from the Republic of Ireland
and Northern Ireland.
"It's the British Open, it's in Ireland. I feel like I'm hitting it well. Of course I feel uneasy," he said.
There is a group of 13 players in the clubhouse just two strokes off
the lead on three-under, including world number one Brooks Koepka and
Spaniard Jon Rahm.
American Koepka made his only bogey of the day on the penultimate green, but felt he could have done much better.
"Didn't really make any putts. Didn't take advantage of anything to
really go low," said Koepka, who has finished in the top two of all
three majors this year and is looking to add the Claret Jug to his two
US Opens and two PGA Championship titles.
Rahm, who won his second Irish Open title at Lahinch two weeks ago,
held the lead on his own on various occasions, but dropped back with
bogeys at the 15th and 18th holes.
English pair Tommy
Fleetwood and Lee Westwood are also among those on three-under, with the
latter still looking for his maiden major title in his 25th consecutive
British Open appearance.
Ryan Fox of New Zealand had a record-breaking day with the lowest
back nine in Open history as he came home in 29 to get to join the pack
of players who signed for 68s.
Reigning champion Francesco Molinari saw his hopes of becoming the
first man to defend the title since Padraig Harrington in 2008 take a
blow, only managing a three-over 74.
Argentina's Emiliano Grillo got the crowds excited with the first
hole-in-one at the championship since 2016 on the par-three 13th.
Scores from the first round of the British Open at Royal Portrush on Thursday (par 71):
66 - JB Holmes (USA)
67 - Shane Lowry (IRL)
68 - Sergio Garcia (ESP), Jon Rahm (ESP), Ryan Fox (NZL), Dylan
Frittelli (RSA), Alexander Norén (SWE), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA),
Brooks Koepka (USA), Tony Finau (USA), Webb Simpson (USA), Tommy
Fleetwood (ENG), Lee Westwood (ENG), Tyrrell Hatton (ENG), Robert
69 - Romain Langasque (FRA), Park Sang-Hyun (KOR), Justin Rose (ENG), Ashton Turner (ENG)
70 - Cameron Smith (AUS), Jason Day (AUS), Bernd Wiesberger (AUT),
Lucas Bjerregaard (DEN), Shubhankar Sharma (IND), Yuki Yuki Inamori
(JPN), Kim Si-Woo (KOR), Erik Van Rooyen (RSA), Louis Oosthuizen (RSA),
Branden Grace (RSA), Rory Sabbatini (SVK), Henrik Stenson (SWE), Charley
Hoffman (USA), Patrick Cantlay (USA), Kevin Kisner (USA), Jordan Spieth
(USA), Andrew Putnam (USA), Matt Kuchar (USA), Rickie Fowler (USA),
Eddie Pepperell (ENG), Callum Shinkwin (ENG), Russell Knox (SCO)
71 - James Sugrue (IRL), Hideki Matsuyama (JPN), Mikumu Horikawa
(JPN), Im Sung-Jae (KOR), Zander Lombard (RSA), Ernie Els (RSA), Justin
Harding (RSA), Justin Thomas (USA), Patrick Reed (USA), Doc Redman
(USA), Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG), Darren Clarke (NIR)
72 - Thomas Pieters (BEL), Corey Conners (CAN), Thorbjorn Olesen
(DEN), Mikko Korhonen (FIN), Nino Bertasio (ITA), Yosuke Asaji (JPN),
Hwang Inn-Choon (KOR), Abraham Ancer (MEX), Brandon Stone (RSA), Gunn
Charoenkul (THA), Aaron Wise (USA), Lucas Glover (USA), Bubba Watson
(USA), Dustin Johnson (USA), Brian Harman (USA), Paul Casey (ENG),
Curtis Knipes (ENG), Connor Syme (SCO)
73 - Emiliano Grillo (ARG), Rafael Cabrera (ESP), Adrián Otaegui
(ESP), Alexander Levy (FRA), Benjamin Hébert (FRA), Andrea Pavan (ITA),
Takumi Kanaya (JPN), An Byeong-Hun (KOR), Joost Luiten (NED), Shaun
Norris (RSA), Prom Meesawat (THA), Brandon Wu (USA), Keegan Bradley
(USA), Luke List (USA), Chez Reavie (USA), Jim Furyk (USA), Patton
Kizzire (USA), Chris Wood (ENG), Oliver Wilson (ENG), Andrew Johnston
(ENG), Matt Wallace (ENG), Graeme McDowell (NIR)
74 - Adam Hadwin (CAN), Li Haotong (CHN), Francesco Molinari (ITA),
Kang Sung-Hoon (KOR), Mun Doyeob (KOR), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (RSA),
Jazz Janewattananond (THA), David Lipsky (USA), Bryson DeChambeau (USA),
Kurt Kitayama (USA), Xander Schauffele (USA), Ryan Palmer (USA), Zach
Johnson (USA), Brandt Snedeker (USA), Stewart Cink (USA), Jason Kokrak
(USA), Gary Woodland (USA), Jimmy Walker (USA), Danny Willett (ENG)
75 - Austin Connelly (CAN), Adrià Arnaus (ESP), Padraig Harrington
(IRL), Yoshinori Yoshinori Fujimoto (JPN), Isidro Benítez (MEX), Chan
Kim (USA), Keith Mitchell (USA), Kyle Stanley (USA), Nate Lashley (USA),
Paul Waring (ENG), Ian Poulter (ENG), Tom Lewis (ENG), Jack Senior
(ENG), Sam Locke (SCO), Paul Lawrie (SCO)
76 - Jake McLeod (AUS), Joaquin Niemann (CHI), Jorge Campillo (ESP),
Matthias Schmid (GER), Yuta Ikeda (JPN), Jang Dong-Kyu (KOR), Joel
Dahmen (USA), Phil Mickelson (USA), Billy Horschel (USA), Andy Sullivan
(ENG), Robert Rock (ENG), Andrew Wilson (ENG)
77 - Michaël Lorenzo-Vera (FRA), Alexander Björk (SWE), Kevin Streelman (USA), Cheng Tsung Pan (TPE)
78 - Adam Scott (AUS), Marc Leishman (AUS), Richard Sterne (RSA), Tiger Woods (USA), Tom Lehman (USA), Matthew Baldwin (ENG)
79 - Garrick Porteous (ENG), Rory McIlroy (NIR)
82 - Miguel Ángel Jiménez (ESP)
83 - Dimitrios Papadatos (AUS), Shugo Shugo Imahira (JPN), Thomas Thurloway (ENG)
91 - David Duval (USA)