Golfer Rory McIlroy had a surreal day at The Open Championship on Thursday, so much that his excellent round of 66 might become the most forgettable part of his 18-hole escapade.
At the adventurous 5th hole at St. Andrews Golf Club in Scotland — one of the world's most iconic golf courses — McIlroy's monster drive was prematurely grounded by a stone in the middle of the fairway.
The stones, known as March Stones, bear the likeness of miniature tombstones, and mark the edges of the original "Old Course" at St. Andrews — which dates back to the 15th century.
Veterans of St. Andrews, such as the 33-year-old and four-time major champion McIlroy, know all about the perils of nestling a ball up against the March Stones, since golfers wouldn't get any stroke relief from doing so.
Prior to the drive on the 5th hole, McIlroy reportedly joked with his caddie, Harry Diamond, about the hypothetical bad luck of placing a ball right up against a March Stone.
"I said to Harry, 'Some poor guy is going to have his ball end up right behind that today because it's right in the firing range, and I don’t think you get a drop,'" said McIlroy after his first day round.
Golf magazine writer Sean Zak tweeted an up-close photo of the famed March Stone ... with the following text: "The stone that Rory just bounced off is one of the March Stones on the Old Course. They mark the original boundary of the course ... there's a 'G' on one side of each of them. If you saw the G, you're standing on the golf course side of the boundary."
Despite being in a precarious position with his second shot, thanks to the work of the March Stone gods, McIlroy rallied for a birdie-4 at the par-5 5th — setting the stage for three consecutive birdies on the front nine.
However, that wasn't the end of McIlroy's trying day.
During one of his tee shots later in the round, the errant ball ended up striking Charlie Kane, a PGA Tour employee.
Kane got hit squarely on a knuckle of his left hand, and ended up with a fracture that momentarily resulted in his left arm being in a sling.
The PGA Tour employee was able to laugh off the incident, though, proudly posting photos of his discolored hand, while tweeting out the following message: "Fractured hand after Rory McIlroy's drive landed on my knuckle. [Rory] shouted 'fore.' I did not heed the warning."
At the end of the round, McIlroy took stock of his crazy day on the links.
According to a Zak tweet, "Rory just said this is the most fiddly Open he's ever played. Called it 'the fiddliest,' and noted that 'fiddly hasn't been my forte.' ... fiddly, word of the day, means 'complicated or detailed and awkward to do or use.' "
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