Rory McIlroy, centre, gets some help as he looks for his ball in the long rough on the first hole during the first round of the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Portrush. Picture: Peter Morrison/AP
Rory McIlroy, centre, gets some help as he looks for his ball in the long rough on the first hole during the first round of the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Portrush. Picture: Peter Morrison/AP

Jason Day in the Open mix as Tiger and McIlroy wipe out

JASON Day and Cameron Smith are the only two hopes of breaking Australia's 26-year British Open title drought after a rugged first round at Royal Portrush.

Day and Smith defied difficult afternoon conditions to sit four strokes behind American leader JB Holmes after carding respectable one-under-par 70s.

But Adam Scott and Marc Leishman all but shot themselves out of contention with shocking 78s.

Jake McLeod (76) also faces an uphill battle to make the halfway cut, while fellow major championship debutant Dimi Papadatos has no chance of featuring at the weekend following a diabolical 12-over 83.

Former champion David Duval, with a nightmare 91, is the only player in the 156-man field trailing Papadatos, whose destructive round contained seven bogeys and three doubles.

Day had his game face on all day, scrambling brilliantly until spoiling an otherwise impressive round with his only bogey at the last after leaving his approach well short and then hitting through the green with his chip.

Filthy with his finish, the former world No.1 made a beeline straight for the practice range to sharpen up for Friday's second round.

Smith was more content with his start after rebounding from a bogey on the first with birdies on the second and 10th holes to also finish in red numbers and a share of 22nd spot.

English pair Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood are among those on three-under, with the latter still looking for his maiden major title in his 25th consecutive British Open appearance.

Ryan Fox of New Zealand had a record-breaking day with the lowest back nine in Open history as he came home in 29 to get to join the pack of players who signed for 68s.

Reigning champion Francesco Molinari saw his hopes of becoming the first man to defend the title since Padraig Harrington in 2008 take a blow, only managing a three-over 74.

Argentina's Emiliano Grillo got the crowds excited with the first hole-in-one at the championship since 2016 on the par-three 13th

Woods, McIlroy endure horror opening rounds

HOME favourite Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods both endured dreadful starts to the British Open as the championship returned to Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951.

Organisers the R&A are anticipating the second-biggest ever Open attendance, with 237,750 people expected to come through the gates this week in Northern Ireland, but spectators were left stunned by McIlroy's immediate collapse.

He briefly battled back after a bogey at the par-three third hole, but missed a tiny putt to double-bogey the 16th, tripled-bogeyed the last and eventually carded a disastrous eight-over 79.

"I guess when you play your first and last holes in a combined seven over par you are starting on the back foot," said McIlroy.

The four-time major champion, who fired a course-record 61 at Portrush at the age of just 16 in 2005, was given a huge reception on the first tee as the crowds huddled around the opening hole for a sight of the local hero.

But he quadrupled-bogeyed the first after hitting his tee shot out of bounds.

Woods saw his bid for a 16th major title all but come to a premature end as he stuttered to a miserable seven-over 78, including six bogeys and a double bogey at the par-three sixth.

The Masters champion's sole birdie of the day came at the par-four 15th, which he celebrated with an ironic raise of his arms, but he fittingly finished his round with one last bogey.

Woods and McIlroy now face daunting tasks to try and make the cut.

Koepka in the hunting pack

THERE is a group of 13 players in the clubhouse just two strokes off the lead on three-under, including world number one Brooks Koepka and Spaniard Jon Rahm.

American Koepka made his only bogey of the day on the penultimate green, but felt he could have done much better.

"Didn't really make any putts. Didn't take advantage of anything to really go low," said Koepka, who has finished in the top two of all three majors this year and is looking to add the Claret Jug to his two US Opens and two PGA Championship titles.

"But definitely didn't shoot myself out of it, so I'm okay with that." Rahm, who won his second Irish Open title at Lahinch two weeks ago, held the lead on his own on various occasions, but dropped back with bogeys at the 15th and 18th holes.

News Corp Australia

Ballina's Riding for the Disabled turns 40

Ballina's Riding for the Disabled turns 40

The organisation has helped hundreds of people over the years

Skate parks closed for much-needed maintenance

Skate parks closed for much-needed maintenance

The work will be finished in time for popular skateboarding comp

Night works begin on The Coast Rd

Night works begin on The Coast Rd

Two new roundabouts and an underpass are being built