Rickie Fowler said what many people thought when Rory McIlroy dropped four shots at the first hole this morning: “That was not fun to see”

Rickie Fowler in sympathy for Rory McIlroy

After Rickie Fowler posted a solid one-under-par 70 in the first round of The Open he spared a thought for his friend and rival Rory McIlroy, whose challenge was left in tatters after a torturous quadruple-bogey eight at his very first hole.

“Rory is a good friend and that was not fun to see,” said Fowler at an evening event with Open patron Mercedes-Benz.

“Rory has probably put a lot of pressure on himself and he obviously wants to play well this week. He got off to a tough start and he was fighting back but then didn’t finish the round the way he wanted to.

“As players it is not something we like to see and we never root against other golfers, especially an awesome guy like Rory. He is a good buddy.”

Fowler and McIlroy first met when the two played on opposing Walker Cup teams as teenagers at Northern Ireland’s Royal County Down in 2007. When McIlroy hosted the Irish Open at the same golf course eight years later, Fowler made the long journey from the United States to play.

While McIlroy has a fight on his hands to make the cut at Royal Portrush tomorrow, Fowler is well placed in a tie for 20th.

“It’s always nice to get going in the right direction in the first round,” he said. “I am happy with it. I hit a lot of good putts and a lot of good shots.

“We can tighten up the scrambling short game a little bit but other than that we did a good job of getting out to a good start and taking care of the first day.

“You just need to take what comes your way on a links course and accept what you are up against. You never know what is going to happen with the weather. This morning the rain was off and on and the wind was up a little bit. You need to take what you get and make the best of it.”