Jerry Kelly got the 140th British Open under way at Royal St George's and could be thankful for his bogey at the first hole.
That dropped shot by the American on Thursday morning was in stark contrast to the horrendous 11 he started with the last time the tournament was held here in 2003 en route to an 86 and an injured hand that forced him to withdraw from the second round.
At 7,211 yards and par 70, the old course is a tough test for the world's golfing elite and one that will get even tougher if the offshore winds blast inland over the next four days.
"You never know what the weather will do, you can get the right side of the draw or the wrong side of the draw, but you never know what Mother Nature will throw at you," was how England's Ian Poulter put it.
One of several players bidding to win the Open for England for the first time since Nick Faldo in 1992, Poulter has come close before - three years ago at Royal Birkdale where he finished second to a late-charging Padraig Harrington.
The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland won the US Open by a stunning eight strokes last month and he is looking to become the first player since Woods in 2000 to add the British Open in the same year.
McIlroy who heads off at 9:09 am (0809 GMT) along with 2002 champion Ernie Els and young American hope Rickie Fowler, has not played competively since winning in the United States, but he insists he can cope with the spotlight being fully on him.
"I'm the sort of person that likes a little bit of a buzz in the atmosphere around the group and I'll enjoy it. I'll definitely enjoy it," he said.
"Last time I played competitive golf I had a pretty big crowd following me."
In the absence of Woods, four-time major winner Phil Mickelson will be expected to lead the way for the Americans, seeking to end a record run of five Majors without a US winner.
World No.10 Nick Watney though said that, golf being an individual game, he felt no added pressure on himself to provide an American win. All he could do was go out and do hs best and hope that luck is on his side.
"A golf course like this - sometimes good things happen to bad shots and bad things happen to good shots, but at the same time, I think it'll be a great test, and I'm really looking forward to the challenge of Royal St. George's."
Source: AFP American Edition