Golf: Molinari 94th in Open start

McIlroy and Woods risk missing cut, Holmes ahead

Redazione ANSA Rome

(ANSA) - Rome, July 19 - Francesco Molinari kicked off his British Open title defense badly and Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods had a disappointing start in the first round of the 148th edition of the Open Championship, the fourth and last major of 2019.
    The British Open's beginning was full of surprises.
    Brooks Koepka held his ground, JB Holmes led the first round and Emiliano Grillo scored a hole-in-one.
    After triumphing in 2018, Francesco "Chicco" Molinari had a difficult start in Portrush, Northern Ireland.
    The Italian golfer on Thursday carded a three-over-par 74, eight shots from Holmes, the leader with 66 (-5).
    "It's certainly not the start I dreamed of and hoped for", said Molinari after a round marked by two birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey.
    His title defense appeared harder after the first round.
    The last player to score a back-to-back victory was Padraig Harrington (2007-2008), Team Europe's captain at the Ryder Cup 2020.
    Pre-tournament and home favorite Rory McIlroy, the world's No. 3, had a disastrous eight over round of 79 and already risks missing the cut, ending in 150th position Thursday.
    McIlroy imploded with a quadruple-bogey on the first hole and a triple bogey at the end.
    Tiger Woods also got off to a bad start.
    The Californian 15-time major champion is 144th with 78 (+7) and risks not making the cut.
    Champions who had a good start included Koepka (a four-time major winner and current world No.1), Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Alex Noren, Tony Finau and Tyrrell Hatton, all third with 68 (-3). Emiliano Grillo finished in 72nd position with a two-over-par 73, along with Roman golfer Andrea Pavan in his second ever major.
    Nino Bertasio, who debuted in a Grand Slam tournament, notched the best performance among Italian players, ending in 54th position (72, +1), the same score as Dustin Johnson, No. 2 in the world ranking.