McIlroy's game implodes again - this time at British Open
RORY McIlroy's British Open hopes already look to be in tatters as he trails the leader by a massive 13 shots following his opening round at Muirfield.
The world number two, who has struggled since making a switch to Nike clubs earlier this year as part of a massive sponsorship deal, went five over par after a double bogey at the 12th on the Scottish links course.
He managed a birdie on the next to take him to four over par but then hit a double bogey on the 15th and ended with bogeys on the 17th and 18th.
Zach Johnson of the United States who is five under par leads the field.
Former Masters champion Johnson surged to the top of the leaderboard at the Open after the early front-runners failed to hold their positions.
The American, winner at Augusta in 2007, picked up five shots in as many holes on the front nine - including an eagle three - to take a two-stroke lead as he reached the turn at five under. Another birdie on the 12th took him to six under and although he lost a shot later, he is on his own on -5.
That was one better than Rafael Cabrera-Cabello and two ahead of his fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, who had been five under to the turn and had held a three-shot lead before giving strokes back coming home.
Johnson's namesake and compatriot Dustin had also gone out in a four-under 32 only to bogey the fours at 12 and 14.
In favourable scoring conditions on the hard and fast-running Muirfield links, there were more birdie opportunities than usual and several players took advantage early on.
In contrast, Rory McIlroy had bogeys on four, five, 10 and 11 - as well as his double on 12 - along with just two birdies over the first 14 holes. And his round got even worse over the closing holes as he finished double bogey, par, bogey, bogey to put his participation over the weekend in serious doubt.
It was better news for Padraig Harrington who managed to secure a par round in a tournament he has won twice in the past. Shane Lowry had a disappointing day, finishing on three over par.
Prior to that former Open champion Todd Hamilton had enjoyed something renaissance with a round of 69 - the first time he had broken 70 at the tournament since the final round of his surprise win of 2004 at Troon.
The 47-year-old had missed six of the last eight Opens, including the last four in succession, and admits it had not all been plain sailing since lifting the Claret Jug.
Asked how he reflected on the last nine years he said: "Terrible. There's been days where I didn't want to play.
"I definitely thought my golfing career would have been better after that than it was."