There aren’t many tougher tests in golf than Royal Portrush on a day dominated by heavy rain and winds, let alone when you’re making your first major championship start.
That was the task put to Jake McLeod on Thursday at the 148th Open Championship and after a 5-over 76 on debut the Queenslander made the grade.
McLeod will finish the day ahead of major champions and pre-tournament fancies Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Adam Scott and level with Phil Mickelson.
He’ll have work to do early tomorrow morning when he gets another crack at Royal Portrush but friendlier conditions are expected, opening the door for McLeod to book himself a Saturday morning tee time.
“I didn’t play as well as I would have like to. It was a bit hit and miss really, more miss than hit,” said McLeod.
“It wasn’t easy by any means, the rain coming and going and the wind was up. You just had to grind away.
“Hopefully it’s a little bit better tomorrow and we can be more aggressive.”
The highlight of the day came with McLeod’s first birdie at the 236-yard par-3 16th known as ‘Calamity’, a one-shot hole in name only.
As for his first act in major championship golf, McLeod was surprisingly calm on the first tee despite being surrounded by the Royal Portrush galleries.
“I was a lot better than I thought I would be, to be honest. I thought the heart would be racing,” McLeod said.
“I was definitely nervous but I hit a good one. just got the 4-iron out and hit it down there!”
McLeod’s second round begins at 7:19am local time (4:19 AEST).