Former winner Mark O’Meara admitted his day was “toast” after just one shot as his final Open Championship appearance got off to a nightmare start at Royal Birkdale.
O’Meara, who won the Masters in 1998 and lifted the Claret Jug at Birkdale three months later, hit the opening shot at 6:35am straight out of bounds as wind and heavy rain made conditions testing for the early starters.
The 60-year-old went on to make a quadruple-bogey eight on his way to an 11-over-par 81, but was far from alone in finding the 448-yard par four a daunting prospect.
One player in each of the first three groups hit a tee shot out of bounds, with amateur Maverick McNealy, John Deere Classic winner Bryson de Chambeau and South Korea’s KT Kim all carding triple bogeys.
O’Meara, pictured, who was asked by tournament organisers if he would be happy to hit the opening shot, said: “I just got off to such a poor start and my hand slipped off the club.
“When you’re nine over par through seven holes it’s very disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world. I realise kind of where I’m at in my life. But you still play for your pride and certainly I’m disappointed that I didn’t do better.
“For the R&A to give me that privilege of the first tee shot shows the respect they have for their Open champions, the respect to know that this was going to be my last Open Championship. I would have thought I would’ve been more nervous, but I was not pleased when I hit that shot. I don’t think anybody would be. My name is on my golf bag, I’ve won the Open Championship, I’m in the Hall of Fame.
“My day was toast after that first tee shot. But I still had to play. At one point I felt like I was going to shoot 90 out there. I shot 81, so be it.”