A solid British open start for Tiger Woods and various other stars

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PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland – It was a rough start for Tiger Woods during this British Open, and while it was putting the eighth hole for what was perhaps his first birdie on Thursday, a rainbow appeared over the Atlantic.

Woods squeezed his eyes close to the 30 foot putt line, wiped the blade off his putter, aimed the ball, and missed.

Sometimes a rainbow is just a rainbow.

"I didn't do much there today," Woods said later. "I hit a lot of missed shots, they were all over. He didn't hit it solidly. Everything was away. Just try to scrape it around."

The best he could manage was a seven -over-par 78 in the opening round at Royal Portrush, which was also the first British Open round in Northern Ireland since Portrush hosted the event in 1951.

Woods has long been a fan of the amazing courses from Northern Ireland and the decision to return to a part of the world where golf is mainstream and affordable for the general public.

But no matter how much Woods wanted to honor the occasion and create the same kind of communion with the public as he did not allow during the Masters in April, his 43-year-old body and the ruthless layout of Portrush .

Woods had six bogeys, one double bogey and only one birdie, who came to the 15th hole late in the round and praised him a little funny by raising both arms. Woods seemed to move cautiously on Thursday from the start and he confirmed that he was struggling physically after his highest scoring round of the season.

Woods had spinal fusion surgery in 2017 after a series of other operations to solve disk problems.

"I am in pain," he said. "Just how it is. Just Father Time and some of the procedures I have had over time, exactly as it will be. One of the reasons why I play fewer tournaments this year is that I hope I can extend my career and can be a bit longer here. "

This is just Woods & fourth event since his emotional win at the Masters, his first major win in nearly 11 years.

He missed the cutback at the PGA Championship, finished ninth in the draw at the Memorial Tournament and then became 21st at the Open of the United States.

He seems well on his way to missing another part here, a year after he made an inspired run to the British Open in Carnoustie. Woods then finished sixth in a draw, which seemed like a distant memory as he set out for treatment after the difficult round in Portrush.

"That's about all I can do, and hopefully the body responds," Said Woods, whose worst lap came from British Open at a peak – a 10-over 81 at Muirfield in 2002. "I'm going days like this and having to fight through it. And I fought through it. "

He was hardly the only one struggling through the cool, windy, and often rainy conditions. Certain players did well, including J.B. Holmes, a long-traveling American who was also a straight-forward American on Thursday. He took the first round lead with a five-under-66, a stroke ahead of Shane Lowry of Ireland.

But Woods and the other sentimental favorites usually failed to give the crowd in Portrush what they craved.

Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland's most prominent golfer and quadruple champion, set the track record of 61 on the former course in Portrush when he was just 16 years old.

He had tried to worry for this tournament, but immediately put himself in a huge deficit, fell out of favor with the first hole and ended it with a four-fold bogey. After having composed himself and playing solid golf for the next 14 holes, McIlroy then doubled the par-3 16th after missing a tap-in putt for bogey.

He triple bogeyed the 18th to end his round the way he had started it.

"The one I am most disappointed with is the small short putt at 16; that was not to be excused," said McIlroy, who is number three in the world ranking. "Tee shots as the first time happens. You can run a little too much on the wind. That's fine. But after concentration, I have the feeling that I have done a very good job over the past few years and I realized, & # 39; OK, just keep a cool head, & # 39; and I didn't do it there. I almost fled and missed it. "

Graeme McDowell, a Portrush resident and the 2010 United States Open champion, also got a huge roar when he resigned in the morning. He went two under on the first nine and was still two under with two holes to play, but bogeyed the 17th and then hit a ride in the rough on the 18th. Despite a frantic search, he was only able to find his ball a few seconds after the time limit had expired.

McDowell had to return to the 18th tee in a cart, with his head in his hands for part of the journey, to hit another disc. He ended with a triple-bogey 7 and a two-over-par round of 73.

"It's a cruel sport," McDowell said. "I came to the first tee this morning and literally had a tear in my eye, and then I had a tear around my eye on the last hole there for another reason."

McDowell and McIlroy were two of the Northern Irish golfers whose greatest success and lobbying have convinced the organizers of British Open that it was finally time to return to Portrush. Darren Clarke, the 2011 Open champion, was another, and he did better on Thursday after he had the honor to shoot the opening punch at 6:35 AM. He was three substandard on the first five holes and ended with an equal par 71.

Clarke, 50, said the moment was even more emotional than he had expected, and that, like McIlroy earlier in the week , had been struck by how far Northern Ireland had come since the deadly political conflict known as "the Troubles" that began in the late 1960s and resulted from a peace agreement in 1998.

"I think Rory is the perfect "The Open was not about him, it was about how far our country has gone, how far it has progressed," Clarke said.

The British Open is the most significant global sporting event staged in Northern Ireland, but it seems almost certain that the biggest global star of golf will not win.

"When I'm home and sc hool pickup and soccer practices, I'm much more painful than I am now," said Woods, a father of two children. "But playing at this elite level is a completely different deal. You have to be perfect. These guys are too good. There are too many guys who play well, and I'm just not one of them."

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