Wilson shines as McIlroy struggles
There was a bit of a Ryder Cup comedown for World No 1 Rory McIlroy at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Thursday.
The Northern Irishman returned to solo competition at this week’s European Tour event, just days after helping Europe beat the USA at Gleneagles to retain the Ryder Cup trophy, but could do no better than a one-over-par 73, which left him tied-97th after the completion of the first round.
That leaves him a full nine strokes behind England’s Oliver Wilson, who grabbed a one-shot lead with a superb eight-under-par 64 at the pro-am event.
Wilson and McIlroy both played Carnoustie on Thursday, one of three courses the Dunhill is played on, the others being St Andrews and Kingsbarns.
McIlroy was in top form in his singles victory over Rickie Fowler on Sunday, comfortably beating the American 5&4 after finishing an approximate eight under par.
But he failed to register a single birdie in his opening 12 holes on Thursday, bogeying the sixth to find himself one over at the turn.
When a birdie finally came at the long 14, he quickly gave it back at the short 16th to sign for a 73.
Speaking to Sky Sports, McIlroy admitted he was far from the best.
“A little bit flat, if I’m honest,” he said.
“Obviously with the crowds and everything we were playing in front of last week, to come here it seems a little quiet out there, but it was fun to get to play with my dad.
“I wish I had played a bit better and made a few more birdies but hopefully that will happen over the next couple of days.
“I want to win every week and I want to play well this week and at least give myself a chance. It was not the best score out there for me but we got the hardest course out of the way.”
Leader Wilson, meanwhile, equalled the course record on the way to the first-round lead. It was a welcome return to form for a player who represented Europe in the Ryder Cup in 2008 but has since dropped down to 792nd in the world rankings and these days mostly plies his trade on the Challenge Tour.
“It’s nice to just get out there and take advantage,” said Wilson. “Looking at the forecast, getting Carnoustie out of the way is theoretically the best thing, but you’ve still got to go and play and shoot a good score to take advantage of it, and I’m delighted that I have.
“I’ve been working hard and the game is improving all the time.”
France’s Raphael Jacquelin lies second on seven under, while Padraig Harrington, fresh from his vice-captaincy role at the Ryder Cup, lies in third on six under. Both also played at Carnoustie on day one.
Playing at Kingsbarns, Irishman Shane Lowry equalled his countryman Harrington’s score to join him in third place.
Luke Donald expects Europe to be Ryder Cup underdogs despite home dominance
The United States cruised to a record 19-9 victory at Whistling Straits in 2021.
England’s Charley Hull triumphs in Texas to end six-year wait for LPGA title
The victory was the 26-year-old’s first on the LPGA Tour since prevailing at the CME Group Tour Championship in November 2016.
Ryan Fox remembers Shane Warne after St Andrews success
The New Zealander secured his third DP World Tour title in front of his family with a one-shot victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Romain Langasque equals course record to lead Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
The Frenchman recovered from an early bogey with two eagles and eight birdies to reach 11 under par.
Rory McIlroy bemoans ‘ugly year’ and seeks solution to divide in golf world
The arrival of Saudi-backed LIV Golf series has fractured the game in 2022.
On this day in 2014 – Europe retain Ryder Cup with Gleneagles victory
The Gleneagles victory was Europe’s eighth win in 10 matches.
‘Is this where I am going to die?’ Nicolas Colsaerts on kidney disorder battle
The Belgian is the focus of attention this week as he belatedly defends the Cazoo Open de France title he won three years ago.
On this day in 2008: Ryder Cup misery in Louisville for Nick Faldo’s Europe team
Faldo was heavily criticised for his tactics in the closing singles.
Open champion Cameron Smith wins first LIV trophy in just second start
The world number two is the highest-ranked player to join the rebel series.
Robert MacIntyre beats Matt Fitzpatrick in play-off to win Italian Open
MacIntyre birdied the first extra hole at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, the venue for next year’s Ryder Cup.