Rory McIlroy: What Could Have Been
By Merf under British Open

You know the old golf cliche: You can’t win a tournament on the first day, but you can lose it? Oh, I just used that, huh?

Well, Rory McIlroy hammered home that, no, you can’t win a tournament on the first day, following up his major record-tying 9-under 63 with an equally astounding 80 in the second round.

But this is even more astounding to me: If it weren’t for Lee Westwood’s birdie on the final hole, McIlroy would have tied for second! (Westwood not only backdoored into a solo second, but he quietly broke par all four days.)

As it is, McIlroy tied for third at 8-under, shooting 7-under on the weekend (69-68), a score only bested by Robert Rock (67-69), who tied for eighth — but I am discovering his name for the first time in my life as I type this. Quirky British Open leader boards.

Yes, McIlroy’s rounds get an asterisk because he teed off three hours earlier than the leaders Saturday, and one hour earlier on Sunday. But wow, McIlroy was 16-under for three rounds at the British Open. That’s some great golf thrown away.

Lodewicus Theodorus Oosthuizen got in early Friday with a great round, while McIlroy was hung out to dry in 40 mph winds. But Oosthuizen played four steady/bordering on spectacular rounds, while McIlroy stepped on a landmine in the second round. McIlroy needed to find a way to grind out something close to par in those crazy winds on Friday, ala Tiger Woods, who shot 73 in similar conditions.

If McIlroy had done that, maybe the final group Sunday would have had some firepower, instead of Oosthuizen just waiting Casey out.

But hey, at least Oosthuizen semi-chased history instead of pulling a Graeme McDowell at the U.S. Open on the back nine. Oosthuizen could have shot 77 and still won. Now that would have been mind-numbing.

[AP Photo/Peter Morrison]