A fan threw a golf ball with an earplug attached to it at the world number three during yesterday's opening round at Quail Hollow

Rory McIlroy Dodges Golf Ball During Wells Fargo Opening Round

Rory McIlroy began his defence of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow yesterday but had to contend with a flying golf ball with an earplug attached to it.

The ‘fan’ threw the object towards the Northern-Irishman on the sixth tee.

“It was just one of those things,” McIlroy said.

“It was a golf ball with an earplug stuck on it, so it was sort of strange. Charlotte’s finest sorted it out and got him off the property, thankfully.”

World number five Rickie Fowler was playing with McIlroy and said “So random. The guy tried to say it was a gift. I don’t know why you would give a gift of a golf ball with an earplug attached to it.”

McIlroy’s defence didn’t get off to the best of starts.

Beginning on the back-nine, he bogeyed 12 and 13 before a three-putt double-bogey on 18 to turn in four over.

McIlroy dodges golf ball

A dejected Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy

However, he played the front-nine in three under which included three birdies in a row to get into the clubhouse at one-over-par.

It was his first start since the Masters and only the second time he had completed 18 holes since finishing T10th at Augusta.

“I started off pretty well today but then there was just some shots where I was thinking so much about the swing rather than actually the shot that I was trying to hit and that was really the problem for the front nine.

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“I would much rather be in red numbers but I’m much happier where I am now than I was three hours ago.

“I just need to go out tomorrow and shoot a good second round, something in the 60s, to get myself back into the tournament going into the weekend.”

Playing partner Rickie Fowler shot a one-under-par 71 which included a double-bogey five at the par-3 17th hole.

Another pair of playing partners Steve Wheatcroft and Andrew Loupe are leading on seven-under-par after 65’s.

On Wednesday, Rory McIlroy announced that he will not play the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth later this month.

The Ulsterman will host the Irish Open on the European Tour the week before the BMW PGA from 19th-22nd May at the K Club in County Kildare.