McIlroy does a Clint Eastwood

Young gun Rory McIlroy survived a spaghetti western day to keep his Open dream alive at sun-kissed Turnberry.

The Holywood ace hit a one under par 69 that he described as a mixture of “a bit of good, a bit of bad and a bit of ugly” to trail leader Miguel Angel Jimenez by five shots.

And he could thank coach Michael Bannon for finding his ball on the eighth when he it looked as if he could rack up a cricket score.

Buried in the rough off the tee, he tried to muscle a nine-iron ball back into play but could only move it just 15 feet into even deeper trouble.

The ball plunged into deep grass near his coach’s feet and he eventually found it with just seconds of the regulation five minute search time remaining.

Forced to declare it unplayable, McIlroy took a penalty drop and eventually holed from six feet for a double bogey six to slip back to level par.

But he followed up with three birdies and two bogeys in his last 10 holes for a solid start to his first Open as a professional.

Relieved to dodge a bullet there, McIlroy said: “Sometimes a double bogey is a good score and that was one of those times.

“It went right in at my coach’s feet and he knew where it was and was searching for it and searching for it. Then he stood up and he was right on top of it.

“If he hadn’t stood up I would have had to declare a lost ball and would have made an eight or a nine so I was pretty lucky that I found the ball and escaped with a six.

“Any time you shoot under par in a major in the first round is good even though the scoring was good today. If I start well tomorrow I will be right there. “

McIlroy got off to a hot start, ramming home a 45 footer for birdie at the second as playing partner Anthony Kim racked up a quintuple bogey nine.

He birdied the par-five seventh as well and then bounced back from that six at the eighth by holing a 10 footer at the ninth to turn in 34.

But there was more rough trouble at the 10th, where he was forced to declare his ball unplayable and did well to hole a 12 footer for a bogey five.

Again he bounced back with a birdie at the 11th and while he failed to get up and down from behind the 14th, he finished in style by following a massive drive at the 16th with a wedge to 25 feet and a sensational putt.

He said: “I had eight threes on my scorecard which is always good around here or any golf course and I hit the ball a lot better than I have done lately.

“I struggled with my game at Loch Lomond and found something on the range and hit the ball really good.”

Chasing 45-year old Jimenez and 59 year old Tom Watson, McIlroy joked that he’s looking forward to playing great golf in 39 years time.

He said: “It is incredible what Tom’s done today to shoot 65. It was Greg Norman last year and he’s doing it this year. I think he’s 39 years older than me and if I can go around Turnberry n 65 in 39 years time I’ll be very happy.”