Rory McIlroy opened his challenge for golf's Open Championship with a dreaded "snowman" - and the memes quickly began to fall on social media.

The Northern Irishman - playing in his home country - closed out the first hole with a quadruple bogey eight - that's four shots over par.

Taking eight shots is known as a "snowman" and social media was not slow to poke fun at the world number three and four-time major winner.

And it looks like snow is falling on other competitors.

David Duval, winner of the Open in 2001, walked off the par-4 fifth with an eight and was in even more trouble at the 7th hole, a par-five, having played the wrong ball, incurring an automatic two-stroke penalty.

According to reports on the course, Duval hit a 13 - eight over on the hole.

A little earlier, 30-year-old McIlroy struck his opening tee shot out of bounds, and cracked the screen of a spectator's mobile phone in her pocket before ending up five feet inside the out-of-bounds posts.

He compounded that error by finding the left rough with his third off the tee.

He then hacked his 155-yard approach into a greenside gorse bush, was forced to take a penalty drop, chipped to eight feet but then missed for a seven.

He eventually made it to the green of the 416-yard opening hole to make a putt for an eight.

McIlroy said he would "dust himself off" and go back to his family and friends who he said he "hoped wouldn't think any less of me after a performance like that, today."

McIlroy takes a drop after sending his tee shot out of bounds on the first. Credit: PA

It's the first time the Open has returned to Royal Portrush since 1951 and organisers would have been hoping McIlroy would sustain a big challenge for the title.

He was one of the pre-tournament favourites and managed to haul his way back to +3 at one point but then his round fell apart once more as he carded an eight over 79.

Although the weather will have a big say on how the next remainder of the first two rounds plays out, McIlroy could now be struggling to make it through to the weekend.

Know your golfing parlance

For those who know their golf, the terminology is second nature. For others, it's a bit of mystery.

So here's what the terms mean:

  • Par - each hole has a recommended number of strokes (depending on yardage) that golfers 'should' normally take from tee shot to downing a putt

  • Bogey - a score that is one above par on a hole. Two over par is a double bogey, three over a triple bogey.

  • Snowman - eight shots on any given hole, possibly because 8 resembles a snowman.

  • Birdie - a score that is one under par for a hole. According to Scottish Golf History, it comes from the early 20th century American slang term "bird", meaning anything excellent.

  • Eagle - two under par for a hole. Again, believed to be first termed in the US, as a natural upgrade on a bird.

  • Albatross - three under par. A continuation on a theme but a British term, the origins of which are unclear, although it's a pretty rare bird to see and an albatross in a round of golf is pretty rare, too.