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“I wish I could stand here and tell you guys what’s wrong and how to make it right,” McIlroy said. “I don’t know what you can do. You just have to try and play your way out. Sometimes I feel like I’m walking out there and I’m unconscious.”

The only time McIlroy shot worse in the Open was an 80 at St. Andrews in 2010, but that was more a product of a brutal wind than poor shots.

This time, he could blame only himself. Heck, he didn’t even beat birthday boy Nick Faldo, who stirred up a bit of a tempest this week when he advised McIlroy to spend more time focused on golf rather than off-the-course pursuits.

Faldo, who turned 56 on Thursday, matched McIlroy’s score even though he’s barely played at all the last three years.

Under brilliant blue skies, the temperature climbed into the low 80s and the wind off the Firth of Forth wasn’t too much of a hindrance for the morning starters. Some spectators broke out umbrellas, only it was to fend off rays instead of rain.

The greens were slick as ice, having baked in the unseasonably dry Scottish weather over the past few weeks, and several golfers — Phil Mickelson and Ian Poulter among them — complained about the tough pin placements given the speed of the putting surfaces.

“The 18th needs a windmill and a clown face,” Poulter griped.

But McIlroy had plenty of problems just getting to the green.

Time and again, he found himself whacking at the ball out of the rough or trying to escape the treacherous bunkers. His most telling sequence came at the 15th, where he drove it into the tall grass, chopped it out just short of the green, then sent a putt screaming past the flag — right into a bunker on the other side.

He let out a sigh that said everything — a once-dominant player who, as Paul Azinger said earlier in the week, looks “adrift.”

Johnson, on the other hand, quickly shook off his playoff defeat in the John Deere Classic. He didn’t arrive at Muirfield until Monday morning after making bogey on the 72nd hole and losing to 19-year-old Jordan Spieth, who became the youngest winner on the PGA Tour since 1931.

The loss did nothing to dampen Johnson’s confidence.

Quite the opposite, actually.

He got on a roll with an eagle at the par-5 fifth, and birdies at the next two holes sent him to a lead that he still had by the end of the long day.

“If anything from last week, what I’ve embraced is the fact that I’m playing great and I can put that into play, and I’m certainly somewhat confident in what I’m doing, confident in my routines, confident in my walk out there, confident in my lines,” he said.

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