Tommy Fleetwood plans to draw on his Ryder Cup experience as he bids to claim a maiden major at The Open this weekend.

Fleetwood was one of the heroes of Team Europe's resounding victory at Le Golf National last year, forming a memorable partnership with 2018 Open winner Francesco Molinari.

While the Italian looks set to relinquish his grasp on the Claret Jug, the other half of the 'Moliwood' duo is in contention at Royal Portrush following rounds of 68 and 67.

And Fleetwood feels his coolness amid the madness of a Ryder Cup and ability to use the crowd's support to his advantage could play a role in Northern Ireland.

"The Ryder Cup, nothing gets more nerve-wracking than that, kind of except when you're coming down the stretch trying to win a major," he said after setting the clubhouse lead at seven under on Friday.

"The support is just great and it's a bonus, really. I think for me personally I always feel like I do a very good job of staying within myself and playing my game and doing my thing and having a good focus.

"But the support that we get, especially if we play home events, I've always said I consider myself lucky that wherever I go I get good support.

"But especially when you play an Open or home event. If it's not quite going your way, they can pick you up.

"And if it is going your way, they can fly with you and you can right it. It's great for us. The number of British players that are here all say the same: Playing in front of your home crowd is the best."

A key difference between Fleetwood and Molinari is the fact the latter can claim to be a major winner and that is one area where the Englishman is desperate to emulate his close friend.

"He's done great. He's obviously built a lot of confidence over the years, and he's made himself into a prolific winner and major winner at that," said Fleetwood.

"I love the way he goes about things. He's built a great team around him. There's a lot of similarities between us except, you know, a couple more wins and a major in there. So I've got a bit of work to do."

Tommy Fleetwood was trendy on the course and trending off it at Royal Portrush, as his funky choice of attire caused a stir on social media on Friday.

The Englishman carded a second-round 67 at the Open Championship and is well in contention to challenge for the Claret Jug over the weekend.

However, Fleetwood's vibrant black-and-white shirt was dividing opinion on social media, with some loving his jazzy polo and others, well, not quite so sure.

The man himself defended the shirt, the same style having also been worn by Tony Finau on the Dunluce Links on Thursday, when addressing the media after his second round.

"If you see me out in Portrush in it then maybe [it's reflective of my personal style]," he said.

"I personally like it. I've had more comments than I thought, so maybe I do have a bit too much of a colourful style because I just thought it was normal."

You just keep on being you, Tommy.

Tommy Fleetwood posted the clubhouse target in round two of the Open Championship, as Brooks Koepka, Cameron Smith and Jordan Spieth also applied the pressure to overnight leader J.B. Holmes.

Englishman Fleetwood, donning a snazzy black and white patterned polo, signed for a fine 67 at Royal Portrush, where lower winds and clear skies were making for favourable morning scoring, and he was leader in the clubhouse at seven under.

Holmes, the overnight leader, was two shots clear of that score with five to play having made back-to-back birdies at 12 and 13. The American played the opening three holes at three under before dropping a shot at the ninth.

Australian Cameron Smith was enjoying a stellar round. Six birdies on his card meant he was six under with three holes remaining.

Four-time major winner Koepka made it back to the clubhouse at five under, the same score Spieth was on with two holes still to play.

Further down the leaderboard, Tiger Woods' chances of reaching the weekend were looking increasingly bleak. The Masters champion was two under for the round through 10, but still five over for the tournament.

Jordan Spieth hit a hot streak on the front nine to move to within one shot of the Open Championship lead.

The 2017 Champion Golfer of the Year, who signed for a modest 70 in Thursday's opening round, found his best form early on Friday to go six under for the tournament.

An eagle three at the seventh courtesy of a mammoth putt from off the green was the highlight of the American's scorecard as he played the first eight holes in 27.

Compatriot J.B. Holmes was the man to catch at the summit on seven under, with Englishman Tyrell Hatton at five under and four-time major winner Brooks Koepka headlining a huge chasing pack on three under.

Erik van Rooyen was another man to take advantage of the favourable conditions, climbing into contention on four under for the tournament alongside Tommy Fleetwood.

Tyrell Hatton made back-to-back birdies at Royal Portrush to join J.B. Holmes at the top of the Open Championship leaderboard.

After a run of four pars to start his second round, Hatton picked up shots at the fifth and sixth to improve to five under for the tournament.

That saw him move into a tie with overnight leader Holmes, who began his round with a par having dropped a shot at the first on Thursday before recovering to fire 66.

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka was one shot behind his American compatriot after a birdie at the second but he bogeyed the fourth and moved back to three under for the tournament, two strokes adrift of Holmes and Hatton.

Ryan Fox was unaware he was on the way to making history during his round as he produced the lowest back-nine score recorded at an Open on Thursday.

The New Zealander made an inauspicious start at Royal Portrush and was three over par through the front nine.

But Fox had a much happier time of it on the way home as he made six birdies and three pars, with his back-nine total of 29 setting a new benchmark in the famous tournament.

"It's pretty good considering how I started," said Fox, who is among 13 players two back of leader J. B. Holmes on three under. "I didn't know it at the time but it's nice to know it was a record.

"Sometimes you need something to click. I was getting frustrated over the first nine holes but then I changed my mindset and saw a few starting to go in."

Fox had been struggling for form heading into the final major of the year but was delighted to piece together a round that left him looking up the leaderboard to find his name.

"I'm just trying to get out of my own way at the moment – I've been a little bit down on myself, frustrated and thinking about the technical stuff too much," he added. 

"I've been trying to just enjoy myself and that finally worked. It's really hard to do – I've missed seven cuts in a row and been trying to do that for seven weeks.

"To figure it out in a major is certainly nice – there's a long way to go but it's the first round in a while where I had some fun and some control over the golf ball."

Jon Rahm is also well poised after matching Fox's round as he eyes a first major title.

The Spaniard, who finished an otherwise promising day with a bogey at the last, said: "I feel like I played two rounds out there today. Still a great score, my best score in an Open Championship.

"Obviously a really good first 12 holes. The only mistake was 11, it was still a decent shot, it wasn't that bad. It just got tough at the end, honestly.

"I feel really good off the tee. I think some of the shots coming in, there was just a little bit of commitment issue, maybe just lack of commitment on some of the shots.

"But besides that, the day has been pretty good. Good round. And feeling good. I mean it's a good start. You can't win the tournament today but you can lose it and I'm in good position for tomorrow."

It was an eventful start to proceedings at the 148th Open Championship, with some of the biggest names in the sport enduring a day of toil.

Royal Portrush was a hot ticket as the world's best golfers began their quest for the coveted Claret Jug.

There was sunshine, rain, wind and all sorts of drama out on the course.

As ever, Omnisport's reporters had their eyes peeled for some of things you may have missed, collecting the highlights into this bite-sized diary.

THINGS QUICKLY GO AWRY FOR RORY

It was quite an experience standing on the first hole when Rory McIlroy's name was announced to an expectant crowd, with the fans giving a typically deafening roar.

Sadly for McIlroy, who shot 61 at Portrush in 2005, things quickly went wrong. His opening tee shot veered out of bounds and smashed a fan's phone in the process.

A quadruple-bogey eight followed and it was a subdued crowd who witnessed their homegrown star trundle to the second tee, with the applause turning to little more than a polite smattering.

 

WONDER IF HE FOUND HIMSELF IN THE WOOF?

Plenty of players are jostling for the lead at The Open, but one good boy perhaps should have been kept more tightly on his...

A happy dog found his way on to a tee box and managed to escape the attentions of fans and officials trying to usher him back under the spectator ropes.

ARE YOU TAKING THE MIC? - DUVAL NOT IMPRESSED

Poor David Duval endured quite the day, kicking it off with back-to-back birdies before a quadruple bogey on the fifth and an eye-watering 14 on the seventh.

He played two provisional shots off the tee and then ended up continuing with the wrong ball, incurring a hefty penalty.

To his credit, the 2001 champion turned up for his mixed zone duties after his round of 91, but he was not keen to speak into the podium microphone.

First, he side-stepped the device altogether, but when it was thrust towards his face, the American swatted it away again.

Ryan Fox was unaware he was on the way to making history during his round as he produced the lowest back-nine score recorded at an Open on Thursday.

The New Zealander made an inauspicious start at Royal Portrush and was three over par through the front nine.

But Fox had a much happier time of it on the way home as he made six birdies and three pars, with his back-nine total of 29 setting a new benchmark in the famous tournament.

"It's pretty good considering how I started," said Fox, who is among 13 players two back of leader J. B. Holmes on three under. "I didn't know it at the time but it's nice to know it was a record.

"Sometimes you need something to click. I was getting frustrated over the first nine holes but then I changed my mindset and saw a few starting to go in."

Fox had been struggling for form heading into the final major of the year but was delighted to piece together a round that left him looking up the leaderboard to find his name.

"I'm just trying to get out of my own way at the moment – I've been a little bit down on myself, frustrated and thinking about the technical stuff too much," he added. 

"I've been trying to just enjoy myself and that finally worked. It's really hard to do – I've missed seven cuts in a row and been trying to do that for seven weeks.

"To figure it out in a major is certainly nice – there's a long way to go but it's the first round in a while where I had some fun and some control over the golf ball."

Jon Rahm is also well poised after matching Fox's round as he eyes a first major title.

The Spaniard, who finished an otherwise promising day with a bogey at the last, said: "I feel like I played two rounds out there today. Still a great score, my best score in an Open Championship.

"Obviously a really good first 12 holes. The only mistake was 11, it was still a decent shot, it wasn't that bad. It just got tough at the end, honestly.

"I feel really good off the tee. I think some of the shots coming in, there was just a little bit of commitment issue, maybe just lack of commitment on some of the shots.

"But besides that, the day has been pretty good. Good round. And feeling good. I mean it's a good start. You can't win the tournament today but you can lose it and I'm in good position for tomorrow."

J.B. Holmes surprisingly leads the way at the top of a tantalisingly tight leaderboard at The Open Championship, but it was a day to forget for Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods at Royal Portrush.

American Holmes, whose previous best finish at a major was third in the same tournament at Royal Troon three years ago, stands alone after a five-under-par 66 on Thursday.

That puts him one stroke clear of Shane Lowry, while Jon Rahm – in fine form after winning the Irish Open earlier this month – had reached five under before two late bogeys on the Dunluce Links left him in a mammoth clutch of 13 players in a tie for third.

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka is also lurking just two shots back, as are Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton and Ryan Fox, who came home in 29 strokes to set a new record for the lowest back-nine score in Open history.

But the cause of McIlroy, carrying the weight of home expectation at Portrush, already appears a lost one as the local favourite toiled to an eight-over 79.

Woods' chances of a fourth Claret Jug also seem damaged beyond repair, with the Masters champion badly out of touch en route to a score of 78.

McIlroy arrived at the first hole to a thunderous ovation, but he trudged off the green with a quadruple-bogey eight after an out-of-bounds tee shot – which broke a spectator's phone – and could not regain his composure.

Another bogey followed at the third and, despite a couple of birdies at the seventh and ninth, more misery was to follow on the closing holes. He three-putted on the 16th, fittingly named Calamity Corner, and finished with a triple-bogey seven.

It was left to Lowry to lay down the marker for the early starters on a morning where conditions were favourable for low scoring, the Irishman recording five birdies and just a solitary bogey to set the clubhouse target.

When heavy bursts of showers interspersed clear skies later in the day, Koepka – who has gone 2-1-2 in the majors in 2019 – got to four under by the 14th before a bogey at the penultimate hole slightly dented his progress.

Woods, meanwhile, dropped six shots between the fifth and 10th to tumble down the leaderboard. Another bogey arrived at 14 before a gain at the next offered temporary relief, with a dropped shot at the last compounding his misery.

Rahm, meanwhile, came flying out of the blocks, a huge crunch down the par-five second leading to his first birdie of the day before draining a 12-foot putt at the fourth for another.

Some wonderful approach play yielded three straight birdies to leave him five under by the turn but scoring proved trickier on the back nine, which he played at two over, including a costly bogey at the last after finding himself out of position.

Instead Holmes – who flew under the radar for much of the round – was the one to emerge from the congested pack.

He bogeyed his opening hole but was two under by the turn thanks to a trio of birdies at the second, third and fifth.

The way home proved just as fruitful as he picked up strokes at the 12th and 14th and 18th, the late gain enough to take the outright lead.

Brooks Koepka joked that caddie Ricky Elliott guided him on all 68 of his shots to start The Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

As a Portrush native, Elliott knows the links course as well as anybody involved in the tournament this week.

And his local knowledge certainly came in handy for four-time major winner Koepka, who began his tournament with a three-under-par 68 to sit two back of leader J.B. Holmes.

Asked how many shots Elliott guided him on during his press conference, Koepka drew laughter from the media by replying: "68 of them."

Koepka said nothing his caddie has mentioned to him this week has come as a surprise.

"It's easy when he's just standing on the tee telling you to hit it in this spot and I just listen to him," he added. 

"I don't have to think much. I don't have to do anything. I figure out where the miss is and where I'm trying to put it and then go from there."

Koepka was among the later starters and was treated to heavy showers in between clear skies.

"I probably got poured on 10 times. Sometimes they'd come a minute, minute and a half and then other times - standing on the second tee box, man, I felt like the world was going to end," he said.

"Everybody else has got to deal with it. You just push on and see where I'm at and throw the rain gear on and hide under the umbrella a little bit, and when it's my turn, I'll just go out and hit one."

Tiger Woods was downbeat after a scrappy opening round at Royal Portrush that effectively ended his hopes of winning The Open.

The 15-time major winner conceded his body let him down as he carded a seven-over 78 on Thursday to sit 12 strokes off the summit.

He cited a lack of mobility after a day in which many of his shots went left of their intended target, making it a miserable outing in Northern Ireland for the Masters champion.

"I didn't do much out there," he admitted. "I hit a lot of missed shots, they were all left. Wasn't hitting it solid. Everything was off the heel. Just trying to scrape it around.

"I'm just not moving as well as I'd like and, unfortunately, you've got to be able to move, and especially under these conditions, shape the golf ball. And I didn't do it.

"It's just the way it is. Just Father Time and some procedures I've had over the time. That's just the way it's going to be."

The 43-year-old revealed in the build-up to the event that he was being much more selective with his schedule in order to extend his playing days.

But he said things did not feel right even before he got going at the Dunluce Links.

"One of the reasons why I'm playing less tournaments this year is that I can hopefully prolong my career, and be out here for a little bit longer," he said.

"My warm-up wasn't very good. I had a hard time moving. And [I was] just trying to piece together a swing that will get me around a golf course."

Woods said he would be going immediately for treatment but insisted he would return to play on Friday.

J.B. Holmes was delighted to execute his game plan to perfection to take a first-round lead at The Open.

The American, who finished third at the tournament in 2016, carded a 66 to sit one shot clear of Shane Lowry and a vast chasing pack a further stroke back

A birdie at the last was the icing on the cake for the 37-year-old, who felt all parts of his game were firing at Royal Portrush on Thursday.

"I hit it great. I didn't miss too many shots. When I did I missed them in the right spot," he said after a five-under round in which his only blemish came at the first.

"I putted well. Stuck to our game plan and just executed about as perfectly as I could do it."

There were times when the Dunluce track played like a typical links course, with the winds picking up and the rain lashing down, but Holmes enjoyed the challenge.

"You just have to accept the conditions over here and not get too greedy and go after some pins," he explained. 

"Try to hit it to the fat of the green, the middle of the green and hopefully make some putts.

"It's a lot different than we play in the States, you're firing at flags and everything else. Here you're trying to get it in the right spot on the green and make a putt."

His low-scoring exploits stand in stark contrast to a couple of the pre-tournament favourites, with home hope Rory McIlroy signing for a 79, while Tiger Woods only managed one better than the Northern Irishman.

In sport the greatest of dreams can instantly become the stuff of nightmares.

For Rory McIlroy, Thursday's Royal Portrush homecoming for the first round of The Open must have felt like that fabled dream where you're stood naked in front of a room of your peers, as his worst fears were laid bare in front of the world in a torrid round on the Dunluce links.

It simply wasn't supposed to be like this. It wasn't the narrative so many had expected or hoped for, even.

Addressing the media this week, McIlroy discussed how he did not feel like the centre of attention.

It was an admirable attempt at staying low key, but there was never any chance the focus of everyone's attentions at Portrush would not be on the four-time major winner.

Ever since he made a mockery of Portrush's reputation as one of the game's toughest links course as a 16-year-old with a startling course-record 61, McIlroy has been the man in these parts of the world.

But boy did Portrush have its revenge on Thursday and in the cruellest of fashions.

An almighty roar welcomed McIlroy onto the first tee as an expectant home crowd waited with bated breath to see what one of Northern Ireland's greatest sons would produce.

A spectator's broken phone as a result of McIlroy's opening wayward tee shot was a fitting metaphor for a round that fell to pieces from the off.

By the time he trudged off the opening green, having made an ugly quadruple eight, the smattering of almost apologetic applause told its own story. 

It was tough viewing as McIlroy scratched his way through the early holes. There was hope a recovery was on the way with birdies at the seventh and the ninth, and he went 12 holes without a bogey.

Yet, just like the showers that arrived at intermittent intervals, that hope proved brief as McIlroy three-putted inside five feet at the 16th – aptly named 'Calamity Corner' – before triple bogeying the last.

A clearly disappointed McIlroy put on a brave face and struck a determined tone, even allowing himself a little joke when asked if there was a way back to the cut mark from 79.

"Definitely a way back to Florida," he quipped. "I definitely think if I can put the ball in the fairway tomorrow I can shoot a good enough score to be around for the weekend. 

"Obviously I'm pretty sure anyone starting with a 79 in this golf tournament doesn't think about winning at this point. But I think I can go out there and shoot something in the mid-60s, be around for the weekend, and then try to play good from there."

Suggestions nerves due to the weight of expectation on his shoulders were a factor were quickly quashed by McIlroy.

"I don't think so. I was nervous on the first tee. But not nervous because of that. Nervous because it's an Open Championship," he added. 

"I usually get nervous on the first tee anyway, regardless of where it is. So maybe a little more so today than other places. But I don't think it was that. It was a bit of a tentative golf swing with a hard wind off to the right and the ball just got going left on me."

There is a sadly familiar pattern in golf's four biggest majors with McIlroy. He has 10 top-10 finishes since he won the last of his four majors at the 2014 US PGA Championship.

But there have not been many times he was genuinely in contention and this week – one of the most important McIlroy has had in his career – is surely now another lost cause.

Jon Rahm moved into the outright lead through nine holes of his opening round at The Open as Brooks Koepka shot into contention - but Tiger Woods endured a miserable day at Royal Portrush.

Spaniard Rahm, a man in form having won the Irish Open at the start of the month for the second time in his career, was in fine touch on the Dunluce Links.

Rahm made birdies at the second and fourth holes before picking up three straight gains before the turn to reach five under through nine, lifting him one clear of clubhouse leader Shane Lowry.

Koepka, who has gone 2-1-2 in the first three majors of 2019, was two under par by the turn and picked up further strokes at 12 and 14, which at the time left him in a share of the lead.

The four-time major winner dropped a shot at 17 to fall into a stacked pack at three under, a score Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Ryan Fox all achieved after 18 holes – the latter having recorded the lowest back nine in Open history with 29.

Woods was toiling much further down the leaderboard, though. The Masters champion went bogey, double bogey, bogey between the fifth and seventh holes.

He dropped further shots at the ninth and 10th and the American was six over with eight holes to play.

Earlier on Thursday, home favourite Rory McIlroy toiled to a 79 in front of an expectant crowd. He started with a quadruple-bogey eight and finished with a seven on the par-four 18th.

David Duval's dreadful day at Royal Portrush was made worse after a score adjustment turned his 13 at the seventh hole to a nine-over-par 14.

The 2001 Open champion began this year's tournament with back-to-back birdies, but that was not at all a sign of things to come as he dropped four shots at the fifth.

Duval then endured a nightmare of scarcely believable proportions at hole seven, with a statement from Open officials detailing the events which led to the double-figure number that eventually adorned his card.

"David lost his first two balls from the tee and then played the wrong ball for the third ball played from the tee," the statement read.

"On discovering the mistake at the green he had to return to where the wrong ball was played, but the correct ball could not be found.

"Therefore he had to play again for the fourth time under penalty of stroke and distance. He played six shots in completing the hole with the fourth ball from the tee.

"He incurred a two-shot penalty for playing the wrong ball but the strokes played with the wrong ball do not count in his score."

The high farce ultimately contributed, quite substantially, to a first-round score of 91 - that is 20 over par.

Speaking when he thought he had scored a mere 90, the 47-year-old - who batted away a podium microphone in the mixed zone - said: "The description was like that tee shot didn't count as a stroke because it was a wrong ball, so there was a two-stroke penalty. It was the wrong ball.

"Everything after that is null. Doesn't matter. The next shots don't count anyways.

"Then up on the front of the green we discovered it was the wrong number two Titleist. So I'm at fault. I didn't take a close enough.

"You know what, there's a lot bigger things than this. And honestly, I stood here starting this week knowing that I'm playing really well.

"I figured if some good things happened I could run top 20. And obviously I'll be in last place."

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