Rory McIlroy found himself five strokes off the lead after the first round of The Open Championship.
McIlroy, 34, carded an opening round of level par 71 at Royal Liverpool on Thursday, which included three birdies and three bogeys
The defending champion, Cameron Smith, was six back after his 72, but the Australian was over par through 18 holes at St. Andrews last July.
McIlroy's good work threatened to unravel after he found the greenside bunker at the 18th hole.
Faced with a tricky lie, the Northern Irishman tried to play out sideways but his TP5x remained in the bunker after an almighty swipe.
Threatened with the prospect of racking up a big score, McIlroy composed himself and eventually made a sensational up and down to save par.
There was thunderous applause as the golf ball rolled into the centre of the cup. McIlroy showed his emotions immediately after.
Unbelievable recovery for par from McIlroy. pic.twitter.com/InwHPXUBbL— Sky Sports Golf (@SkySportsGolf) July 20, 2023
He told the media:
McIlroy added that having been 2-over after 12 holes he was pleased to bring his score back to even par.
The surprise of the day came in the form of Justin Thomas, who carded a dismal opening round of 82.
Thomas sits T-144th in the 156-man field.
Open Championship 2023 info:
- The Open Championship field
- The Open Championship tee times
- The Open Championship odds
- LIV Golf players in the field
- Streaming information
- How to watch
- Prize money information
- Exemption categories
- Players who are exempt but not competing
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