Three pars in a row followed, with the 33-year-old’s excellent opening looking ready to follow up with a powerful shot from the fifth hole. Incredibly, though, McIlroy’s quick shot was negated prematurely when he bounced off a rock in the middle of the fairway.
Shaped like miniature headstones and known as march stones, they mark the edges of the original course, which dates back to the 15th century.
Despite the stone’s best effort, McIlroy recovered magnificently to birdie the par-5 hole, before blowing two more in a row to sit 4-under after just seven holes.
Speaking to reporters after his round, the four-time Grand Slam champion admitted that while he hadn’t noticed the impact of the stone on his shot, he had been talking to his caddy Harry Diamond about the possibility that an unlucky golfer was forced to play a stroke. behind one.
“I told Harry, some poor guy is going to drop the ball right behind that today because he’s right in the firing range, and I don’t think you’re going to drop it,” McIlroy said.
There was also a joyous hit to roundmates Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele, who birdied the fifth without any stone intervention.
“I think I still outplayed the other two,” McIlroy laughed, reflecting on his follow-up shot.
A bogey on the 13th provided the only blemish on the Northern Irishman’s scorecard, as a closing birdie on the final hole saw the 2014 champion close out a six-under 66, leaving him two shots behind the clubhouse leader. , CameronYoung.
“Fantastic start,” McIlroy said. “Just what you expect to happen when you start your week.
“I did everything you’re supposed to do at St. Andrews… It’s another good start to a Major, three in a row for me now. I’m looking forward to the next few days.”
However, while the Claret Jug remains in McIlroy’s sight, one of his few stray trips went unseen by an unlucky onlooker.
Charlie Kane, a PGA Tour employee, tweeted that he had suffered a broken hand after the golfer’s ball hit his knuckle.
The accompanying images showed painful bruising, but concluded with Kane back on the field smiling, albeit sporting a sling.
“He yelled ahead. I didn’t heed the warning,” he wrote.
McIlroy is scheduled to tee off his second round at 2:59pm BST (9:59am ET) on Friday.