McIlroy hits ancient stone -- and breaks PGA Tour employee's hand -- in eventful first Open round

    Rory McIlroy during the first round of the 150th Open Championship in St Andrews, Scotland.

    (CNN)Rory McIlroy has seen more than most during his decorated golf career, but even he won't have experienced many first rounds quite like the one he had at St Andrews on Thursday.

    In pursuit of his second Open Championship title, the Northern Irishman made a scintillating start at the Old Course, draining a monster 55-foot putt on the opening hole to spark a roar from the grandstands.
    Three consecutive pars followed, with the 33-year-old's fine opening looking set to continue with a powerful drive from the fifth tee. Yet, incredibly, McIlroy's speeding shot was prematurely grounded when it bounced into a stone in the middle of the fairway.
      Shaped like miniature tombstones and known as March Stones, they mark the edges of the original course, which dates back to the 15th century.
        Despite the stone's best effort, McIlroy rallied superbly to birdie the par-5 hole, before rattling two more in a row to sit 4-under after just seven holes.
        Speaking to reporters after his round, the four-time major champion admitted that while he hadn't noticed the stone's impact on his drive, he had been chatting with his caddie Harry Diamond about the prospect of an unlucky golfer being forced to play a shot from behind one.