A disastrous start to the tournament for the favorite, who is playing in his home country of Northern Ireland.
Rory McIlroy entered this week's Open Championship as the Vegas favorite, and for good reason. He's playing some remarkably consistent golf this year. He has a great record in the Open. And, perhaps most of all, it's basically a home game.
McIlroy, who is from Northern Ireland, is playing on home soil this week at Royal Portrush. He is the course-record holder, having shot an 11-under 61 as a 16-year-old in 2005.
Given his history at Portrush and the fact that Northern Ireland is hosting the Open for the first time since 1951, all eyes were on the world No. 3 in the run-up to this momentous event.
On Thursday, the golf portion of his week started. It was a disaster.
The 2014 Open Champion snap-hooked his first tee shot of the day out of bounds left, then needed six more shots—including taking a penalty drop for an unplayable lie and missing a four-footer for 7—en route to a quadruple-bogey 8.
"The tee shot almost settled me down a little bit," a remarkably upbeat McIlroy told NBC after the round. "It's like, well, can't really start much worse than this, so we might as well get the head down and keep going."
It was just the second time the 30-year-old has made a quadruple bogey in a major, with the other coming in the final round of the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion.
McIlroy would par the par-5 second before dropping one more shot at the par-3 3rd, meaning he was 5 over par just three holes into his tournament. He would work his way back to three over with birdies on 7 and 9 and looked to have steadied himself...until 16, where he three-putted from inside five feet for a double-bogey 5.
Then came the par-4 18th, where he hit his tee shot into the rough, left his second in the rough, pitched out, played his fourth way right into fescue, then hacked it out onto the green, then two putted for a closing triple-bogey.
"Whenever you play your first and last holes in a combined seven par, it's going to be a pretty rough day," he said.
McIlroy would sign for a hugely disappointing seven-over 79, and he'll have significant work to do on Friday simply to make the cut.
If anyone is capable of shaking off a nightmarish opening round and working his way back into the mix, it's Rory. But what a cruel, cruel way to begin one of the most highly anticipated tournaments of your career.