Open favourite Rory McIlroy shot course record 61 at Royal Portrush aged just 16… and it still stands today – The Sun

RORY McILROY showed everybody he was on the path to global golf superstardom when he shot a course-record 61 at Royal Portrush aged just 16.

And incredibly, as the four-time Major champion returns to the course in Northern Ireland looking for his second Claret Jug at the age of 30, the record still stands.


McIlroy, now a lean, mean golfing machine, was a curly-haired, puppy-fat phenom when he carded the 11-under score.

The Northern Irishman, now going grey at the sides, even had blond highlights and a pink baseball cap for that round in July 2005.

Fashion faux pas aside, McIlroy's knock during a qualifier for the North of Ireland Championship has gone down in legend and the scorecard is even on display in a cabinet in the Portrush clubhouse.

Recalling the round, multimillionaire McIlroy said he had more cockiness back then and his confidence is more fragile now.

The favourite for this year's Open told the R&A: "As a 16-year-old, it takes a lot for your confidence to be dented. My confidence is probably more fragile now than it was then.

“I had confidence and cockiness and sometimes I think I need to rediscover that a little bit even now."

Nothing could stop Rory then. And it might not this week, even though two of the holes will play differently because they have been changed for the Open.

McIlroy just missed a birdie putt at the first during his 61 but drained one at the second to move to one under.

Three straight pars followed before further birdies came at the par 3 sixth and par 5 ninth to see him move to three-under through nine.

It was then that he caught fire.

He eagled the par five 10th, birdied the par 3 11th, parred 12 and 13 before then birdieing all the remaining holes to storm home in an eight-under 28.

McIlroy, who was playing off a handicap of +4 at the time, was even trying just to two-putt the par 4 18th for par.

The golfing gods were having none of that though and the 20ft putt rolled in for one final birdie.

McIlroy said he didn't care about his actual score at the time and was instead hellbent on just setting the course record.

He added: "I did not care what the score was, I just wanted the course record.

"News started to filter across there that I had done something special and I got a text from Darren Clarke, which was so cool.

"It felt normal to me. I had that cockiness and thought this was what I was supposed to do. It is only when time goes on that I realise these things are special and you should savour them.

"It was a defining moment. I became pro in 2007 and had two years to make the Walker Cup. But it was defining because the wider golf world took notice."

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