Rory McIlroy keeps an eye on the sky at the open championship

Former champion Rory McIlroy had an anxious eye on the weather as the 146th Open Championship got under way at Royal Birkdale on Thursday.

McIlroy, who has missed the cut in three of his last four starts, had to wait until 2:48pm to begin his campaign for a fifth major title and was wary of being caught on the "wrong" side of the draw.

The 28-year-old had that problem at St Andrews in 2010, where he carded a record-equalling 63 in the first round, only to struggle to a second round of 80 in terrible conditions on Friday.

Rory McIlroy keeps an eye on the sky at the open championship

A year later, the Northern Irishman made his feelings known on the subject when he finished 25th at Royal St George's, a month after winning his first major title in the US Open.

''I'm not a fan of tournaments that the outcome is predicted so much by the weather - it's not my sort of golf,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm looking forward to getting back to America and getting back into some nice conditions.''

Asked in his pre-tournament press conference at Birkdale whether he knew players who would "give up" after getting the bad end of the draw, McIlroy joked: "Yeah, I have.

"I've been on the wrong side and I've been on the right side. I was on the wrong side of it at St Georges in '11 and wasn't very happy about it. Made some comments that I probably shouldn't have made.

"But I think with the Open Championship you're playing in them enough that you're going to get your good draws and bad draws. It's a part of it that you have to accept and I've learned to accept it over the years.

"When you feel like you're playing well and you get the wrong side of the draw, and you feel like the best you can finish is 10th, it's a bitter pill to swallow sometimes.

"But you have to realise in a 25 or 30-year career you're going to get some years that you're on the good side of the draw, and you have to make the best of those. Thankfully I did at Hoylake in 2014.

"Padraig (Harrington) won the thing from the bad side of the draw (at Birkdale in 2008). So it can be done. You just have to stick in there and make the most of whatever the weather presents you and go with that."

Former champion Mark O'Meara was due to hit the first shot at 6:35am. O'Meara, who won the second major of his career when the Open was staged at Birkdale in 1998, was in the first group alongside fellow American Ryan Moore and England's Chris Wood.

AP

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