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  1. ITV Report

Mixed fortunes for NI golfers at The Open in Portrush

It was a nightmare start for Rory McIlroy. Credit: INPHO

Northern Ireland’s golfers have endured mixed fortunes on the first day of The Open in Portrush.

Home favourite Rory McIlroy got off to a miserable start with a quadruple bogey eight on the opening hole.

The Holywood man finished just as badly, with a triple bogey on the 18th to leave him eight over for the round on 79.

McIlroy’s chances of lifting the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush and ending his five-year major drought now look slim.

  • Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry share their thoughts:

Meanwhile his compatriot and fellow former Open champion Darren Clarke relived former glories in front of an adoring home crowd after taking an early lead in the 148th championship.

The 2011 winner, given the honour of hitting the opening tee shot at 6.35am at Royal Portrush, holed a 15-foot birdie putt at the first.

Clarke also birdied the third and fifth to raise hopes of a fairytale result, but eventually had to settle for a level-par 71.

"It could not have been better, hitting the first tee shot and making birdie," Clarke said. "Wonderful."

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Ireland's Shane Lowry set the early clubhouse lead on 67, his best opening round in any major.

"It was nice to shoot a good score and hopefully I can go out and keep at it the next few days," he said.

Meanwhile Graeme McDowell also started well but dropped shots on the last few holes to finish two over for the day.

Former champion Darren Clarke enjoyed a dream start to his home Open. Credit: Presseye