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McIlroy two-under and in contention at The Open despite persistent putting problem

Padraig Harrington endured a tough back nine to finish with 76.

Image: David Davies

Updated Jul 19th 2018, 7:40 PM

DESPITE SOME FRUSTRATING flashes of the erratic putting that has dogged his game, Rory McIlroy carded a two-under-par 69 to end his opening round of The Open joint eighth at Carnoustie.

There were fewer upsides for Padraig Harrington on day one, however. The Dubliner, on the course where he won the Claret Jug in 2007, approached the ninth one shot under par, but carded bogeys on nine, 10, 12, 16 and a double on 18 to leave himself five over par and staring down the barrel of a missed cut.

McIlroy made the turn in level par with a sole bogey coming from the par four fifth.

The County Down man’s round threatened to turn sour when he drove into heavy rough left of the 11th fairway, but his supreme skill shone through the long grass as he pumped a 100-yard recovery to within five feet of the pin. Par was saved, but it should have been better from his position on the green as the short putt was off line.

Still, the brilliant recovery shot went some way to igniting McIlroy’s major Thursday as he birdied the 12th with a 25-foot effort. After missing a makable birdy putt on 13 he then gave himself a chance at an eagle on 14, but the 25-foot effort was off target and he had to be content with a third birdie of the round.

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A solid save on 16 signalled McIlroy was more at ease with the flat stick come the end of his round. So, although he pushed his 15-foot birdie effort left again on 18, the 29-year-old will be content to end day one two-under par, three shots off early leader Kevin Kisner, on a course that is far from predictable.

The Open Championship 2018 - Day One - Carnoustie Golf Links Source: David Davies

For Harrington, there is a lot of work to do on the hard, dry, brown Scottish course tomorrow after he missed a long bogey putt at the last resulting in a 76 to leave him tied 129th way down the field.

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Sean Farrell

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