With Round 1 of the season's final major in the books, it's time to unpack what transpired at Royal Portrush on Thursday. Though a lot of focus will be paid to the leaders at the Open Championship, the biggest storylines arguably belong to those who struggled.
Here are five takeaways from an up-and-down Round 1 at The Open:
Rory McIlroy's chance to hoist the Claret Jug on home soil may have come and gone as fast as his heart was racing on the first tee. After waiting 68 years for the Open Championship to return to Northern Ireland, fans at Royal Portrush couldn't have imagined a worse start for their country's best hope for a title.
The Northern Irishman said he wasn't impacted by the intense pressure of winning a major an hour away from where he grew up, but it was evident from the first tee shot he was feeling the effects. His opening shot went out of bounds, leading to a quadruple-bogey eight. He later missed a tap-in for bogey on the 16th and made a triple on No. 18 to walk off the course at 8-over.
Surprisingly, it's not the first instance the four-time major champion has stumbled mightily in the first round. Thursday's 8-over round at Royal Portrush marked the seventh time in McIlroy's career he's shot 79 or worse to open a tournament, with six of those coming in majors.
Let's hope McIlroy gets another chance at winning The Open at home before his career concludes.
Here we go again.
Brooks Koepka finds his name near the top of another major championship leaderboard after firing a 3-under 68 to sit two shots off the pace.
Helped by his caddie Ricky Elliott - who grew up playing Royal Portrush - Kopeka looked comfortable and in total control of his game as he navigated the difficult links layout. He's now a collective 67-under at major championships since the start of 2017. Rickie Fowler is second at 30-under.
Despite already turning in a major-championship season for the ages, Koepka isn't done. He can become the first player since 1934 to finish first or second in all four majors in the same year.
Tiger Woods didn't look like the player who won the 2019 Masters in what could be considered the greatest victory of his storied career. Rather, he appeared sluggish, cold and, in his words, "sore" during his 7-over 78 first round.
As temperatures in Portrush, Northern Ireland hovered around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, Woods hovered around the bottom of the leaderboard for the majority of the day. A grimace of discomfort after his first tee shot set the tone for the remainder of the round, one that could have easily ended prior to the 18th hole.
Though Woods told ESPN's Bob Harig, "I'll be there," for his scheduled second round at 5:09 a.m. ET Friday, don't expect the green-jacket-winning version of Tiger to show up.
Before two late bogeys dropped him out of a share of the lead, Jon Rahm appeared to be in absolute cruise control. He settled for a 3-under 68 to post the best round of his short Open Championship career.
Entering the week on the heels of his second Irish Open win that capped a streak of three consecutive top-three finishes, the Spaniard is becoming a menace whenever golf is played in either Irish nation. It's a trend that should continue through the week as he chases his first major championship trophy and a chance to cement himself among the best players in the game.
Prepare for an epic heavyweight clash between Rahm and Koepka down the stretch Sunday.
With the Open Championship returning to Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951, there were questions regarding how the Harry Colt-designed course would stand up to today's modern game.
Even with fairly moderate weather conditions - aside from some sudden spurts of rain and wind - Royal Portrush proved to be a fantastic test. The scoring average was 72.98 (par-71 course) with only five holes playing under par. A total of 41 players in the 156-man field sit in red numbers after Day 1.
As with most quality links courses, a variety of players line the top of the leaderboard. Long hitters such as J.B. Holmes, Koepka, and Rahm performed well, while more accuracy-driven players like Webb Simpson and Alex Noren also find themselves in the mix.