Watch: Rory McIlroy's round starts with a quadruple bogey as he cards an eight-over par 79

Rory McIlroy looks for his ball on the opening hole
Rory McIlroy looks for his ball on the opening hole

Rory McIlroy carded an eight-over par round of 79 - 18 shots worse than the course record he set as a 16-year-old - on day one of the Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

On the eve of the 148th staging of the tournament, the 2014 champion spoke of his excitement about competing at the venue which was such a "big part of his upbringing" in golf and was regarded the bookies' favourite to win his fifth major title.

On the Dunluce Links where he announced himself as a star of the future with a course record of 61 aged 16, McIlroy was given a huge ovation on the first tee but that's as good as it got as he began with an eight and signed off with a seven in an opening 79.

At eight over par McIlroy was 12 shots off the clubhouse target set by Ireland's Shane Lowry, who held a one-shot lead over a six-strong group which included former Masters champion Sergio Garcia and Scotland's Robert MacIntyre.

Northern Ireland's best hope for a home winner could hardly have begun in worse fashion having run up a quadruple-bogey on the first after pulling his tee shot out of bounds on the 424-yard par four.

McIlroy's wayward iron shot hit a female spectator and damaged a mobile phone in her pocket before ending up five feet outside the white posts which mark the internal out of bounds.

The four-time major winner then found the left rough with his second attempt and hacked his fourth shot into a bush from where he took a penalty drop, chipped to seven feet and two-putted for a demoralising eight.

The first five holes were playing downwind and offering plenty of birdie opportunities, but McIlroy could not take advantage of the par-five second and dropped another shot on the third after his tee shot ran through the green.

More trouble looked on the cards on the reachable par-four fifth hole after McIlroy carved his tee shot into heavy rough, but he was fortunate to find the ball and almost holed his birdie attempt after pitching to 30 feet.

McIlroy picked up his first birdie of the day on the par-five seventh and narrowly missed for another on the next, those two holes being created from the adjacent Valley Links to replace the original 17th and 18th which are being used to house the spectator village.

A birdie from 15 feet on the ninth took McIlroy to the turn in three-over par but after six straight pars he three-putted from five feet to double bogey the 16th and then ran up a triple-bogey seven on the 18th to complete a miserable day.

McIlroy's five-year major drought doesn't look like it'll end this weekend, that's for sure, but he was philosophical after the round.

"When you play your first and last in a combined seven over you are making life tough for yourself," he told Sky Sports.

"I was understandably nervous on the first tee, hit a bad tee shot, got a bad lie with the second (ball). After that, I felt like I battled back, showed some resilience and held it together in some pretty difficult conditions.

"Just one of those days where I put myself behind the eight ball from the start. I thought if I could have finished two over I may have still been in the tournament but the finish derailed that a bit."

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