Ireland's Shane Lowry takes Open lead

Portrush (UK): Home favourite Rory McIlroy suffered a nightmare start, including an opening-hole quadruple bogey, while Ireland's Shane Lowry took the clubhouse lead as the British Open returned to Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951 on Thursday.

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 first hole was the first hole, it was a rough start but I felt like I showed some good resilience after that and played the next 12 or 13 holes in two under par and then really what I'm disappointed about is I undid all that good work in the last few holes." The 30-year-old is already 12 strokes adrift of clubhouse leader Lowry, who rolled in five birdies in a fine four-under-par round of 67.

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