Rory McIlroy’s Open Championship challenge remained on track despite the setback of driving out of bounds after hitting a spectator on the head at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
The incident happened on the 15th, with McIlroy three under par and joint fifth at the time, when he pushed his drive right into the crowd and the ball ricocheted inches out of bounds. After checking the spectator was okay and signing a glove as an apology, McIlroy returned to the tee but ran up a double bogey.
But the World Number Two maintained his concentration to drive the green on the 336-yard next and two-putt to return to two under. He then also birdied the last for a three under par 67 to finish day one nicely placed in the group three shots behind leader Adam Scott.
"He could have headed it the other way," he joked before adding: "The most important thing was that he was ok.
"I didn't realise there was out of bounds over there. I was shocked when I was told, but it's just one of those things and I thought I did well to keep my composure."
After the incident McIlroy had the goal of getting back to three under, a target he achieved with his closing birdie.
“That birdie on 18 will make dinner taste very nice tonight,” he said.
It took the 2011 US Open Champion seven holes to make his first birdie of the day and he then added another on the very next hole. He dropped a shot on ten but immediately hit back with successive birdies and then bounced back again from his double bogey on the 15th.
“I liked how I reacted out there,” he said. “I bogeyed the tenth from the middle of the fairway with a wedge in my hand, so that wasn't so good. And reacting to that unfortunate break on 15 the way I did, as well, is very pleasing.
“It's not going to be this easy for the rest of the week. So I'm happy with the score that I've shot, and it's a great position heading into the second day.”