Rory McIlroy could have put a fan in hospital with a wild drive but instead put him up in a local hotel.
The world No 2 was concerned to learn that Bristol schoolboy Jason Blue, 16, was staying in a tent with a pal.
The teenager needed treatment from ambulance men after McIlroy’s drive on the 15th bounced off his head and out of bounds but he finished the day laying it down in a fine hotel instead of a damp campsite.
McIlroy said: “I hated the thought of him spending the night in a tent after getting that bang on the head. I’d like him to have a roof over his head tonight and a comfortable place to stay. It’s the least I can do.”
The Holywood star, 22, signed a glove for his ‘victim’ with a smiley face and the word “Sorry” but later felt bad about the incident.
After signing for a 67 that left him just three behind leader Adam Scott, he said: “The most important thing was that he was okay. Because I would have felt terrible if it had have been worse than what it was.”
McIlroy’s ball finished inches out of bounds, costing him a double bogey six.
He joked: “If he could have headed it the other way, it would have been in the fairway.”
But he showed he had a big heart in more ways than one on a damp Lancashire afternoon with a brave finish over the closing stretch as he sandwiched a great par save from nine feet at the 17th between birdies at the 16th and 18th.
“I thought I did well to keep my composure and keep my concentration and finish the way I did. I’m very pleased with that,” McIlroy said. “Standing on the 16th tee, my goal was to get back to three under par for the day and I was able to do that. So that birdie on 18 will make dinner taste very nice tonight.
“Maybe the past I might have fizzled out and let it get to me. But I realised it’s only the first day and you have to take it as it comes.”
The Ulster star started with six straight pars but kept his frustration in check and birdied the eighth and ninth and lipped out from 18 feet for another birdie at the ninth to turns in two under.
Facing a 15 footer for the fringe at the 10th , he raced it four feet past and lipped out with the return to fall back to one under.
But he recovered with a wedge to four feet at the 11th and rolled home a 25 footer at the 12th to get back to three under when he carved his tee shot right on the 15th, hitting 16-year old Master Blue on the back of the head and rebouding out of bounds by a matter of inches.
His response was impressive, however, as he drove the 336 yard 16th and left his eagle putt in the jaws, tapping in for birdie.
Then, following a wonderful par-saving putt from nine feet at the 17th, he finished in style, barely clearing a fairway bunker with a three wood at the 18th before firing a short iron to just six feet for a closing birdie.