The Open morning headlines: Rory's shocking start

Royal Portrush during the Tuesday practise rounds

Players will play to an imaginary hole during practice rounds in anticipation of tournament pin positions Credit Getty Images

The final major of the season began on Thursday at Royal Portrush Golf Club as Northern Ireland welcomed the Open Championship for the first time in 68 years.

A visibly delighted Darren Clarke hit the opening shot this morning at the much-anticipated Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

Tiger Woods, as per usual, will be the main draw at Royal Portrush, which is hosting the British Open for the first time since 1951.

McIlroy set the course record at Royal Portrush with a 61 when he was only 16 years old.

Unlike McIlroy, former Open champion Darren Clarke got off to a dream start and was three under after six holes to briefly lead on a course which he calls home with a house overlooking the Dunluce links.

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Woods says playing majors helps ease the pain. "This course has been a big part of my upbringing and it's sort of surreal now that the Open's and these great players are here".

"I think that just gave me a confidence boost when it comes to that event and that's why I've been able to do it the last few years". I might not get an opportunity to play an Open Championship here again.

Inside the entrance to Rathmore Golf Club, just past a sign offering umbrellas for sale on a rainy day, sits a replica of the U.S. Open trophy the club's favorite son won at Pebble Beach in 2010.

Perhaps that's the reason why he has won the Irish Open twice in the past three years, roared on by huge galleries wherever he goes.

Reigning Open champion Franceso Molinari will launch his defence by stepping out alongside Bryson DeChambeau and Adam Scott, with the trio setting off at 9:58am. But then his tee shot sailed out-of-bounds left.

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But he already has a mountain to climb as he made a disastrous start to his title bid at the first hole - the 421 yard par four - where he was forced to accept two penalty shots. So I'm really just treating it as a wonderful experience, I'm going to love being out there and having the crowds and having the support.

He had been struggling at two-over after an ugly seven at the fifth, but his moment of magic took him back to level par. "So, however you can get it done".

Playoff (if necessary): 3 holes, aggregate score. There is a deep chasm on the right and "Bobby Locke's hollow" is the only respite.

And, just a day out from the beginning of play, our Omnisport team brings you the behind-the-scenes goings on in Northern Ireland. This is a hard elevated green, with the wind likely to affect putting.

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