McIlroy rips through a defenseless Old Course

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Retief Goosen turned on his television just before 10 a.m. and saw Daly at 7-under par through 11 holes. The wind already was whipping flags when he teed off, and the two-time U.S. Open champion equated his 69 to a 66 had he played in the morning.

He bore no grudges. Such is the fickle nature of links golf.

“You’ve still got to make a score,” Goosen said. “It doesn’t matter how easy it is.”

Phil Mickelson didn’t make a birdie in the afternoon until making an 8-foot putt on the last hole for a 73, and walking off the course without speaking to reporters.

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.”

Oosthuizen looked as though he might have a chance to join McIlroy. He also was at 8 under playing the 17th until making a bogey, then failing to pick up a stroke on the last hole and settling for a 65.

Not often does someone open with a 65 in a major and trail by two shots. This was not a typical opening round in a major.

“It just goes to show you that the golf course could have been had,” Woods said. “When I was playing either 17 or 18, to be in the top 10 you had to be 5 under. You don’t see that at too many majors.”

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