With the Open Championship descending upon his home soil, Rory McIlroy had said that to win the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush would bring him to tears.
The course where he set a club record as a 16-year-old, McIlroy had been the subject of much hope and hype with no one emphasising the importance of the tournament to him more than himself.
However, after a disastrous first round which saw him hit an out of bounds on his first tee shot and finish on eight-over-par, Peter Lawrie described McIlroy as having visibly “destroyed his whole dream within four hours.”
Lawrie, a former European Tour golfer and contributor to Off The Ball’s Golf Weekly podcast, said that McIlroy’s calamitous first round couldn’t be attributed to anything other than nerves.
“That's all it could have been,” Lawrie told Nathan Murphy on Thursday’s Off The Ball.
“He was on the range and the commentators were commenting on how well he was hitting the drive just before he got to the tee. My question is: Why did he finish his warm-up with the driver when he was going to hit the iron off the first tee box?
“Then you could go to the tee with a clear picture in your head.
“We all suffer from nerves no matter who we are and Rory had built this up to be something spectacular. He had been waiting for the Open to come there.”
While Lawrie had predicted prior to the tournament that the opening tee shot would be extremely difficult, he said the conditions on Thursday were "easy" when McIlroy stepped up at the first tee box.
“That first tee shot, it was an easy tee shot for this week so far. The wind is meant to switch now and it will be more difficult on Friday,” Lawrie said, adding that of all the golfers in the field he did not expect McIlroy to hit out of bounds given his history with the course.
McIlroy’s inability to recover from his mistake was another surprise for Lawrie after the Northern Irishman then finished four-over-par for the rest of his round.
“I thought he could limp into the clubhouse maybe three-over and he's still in the tournament, but not where he is now. He might as well pack his bags and go home,” Lawrie said.
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