It wasn’t a great day for some of the men who have conquered before in this ultimate links test.

Francesco Molinari, the reigning Open champion, began his title defence with a three-over 74. Tiger Woods on the other hand sagged to a 78, his worst first round in 21 Open appearances, during a dismal day of teeth-clenching misery for the out-of-sorts Masters winner.

Nothing however was as bad as David Duval’s eye-watering 91.

In fact, on one chaotic hole he took so many shots, the officials actually lost count. At the seventh, a 15 was recorded. Then it was a 13. And finally, after he had completed his round, it went back up to a 14.

Duval’s 20-over card was the highest score in The Open since Ian Baker-Finch cobbled together a ruinous 92 in 1997.

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A brace of birdies to start off with at the first and second gave no hint of the disasters to come. But the seventh hole produced the kind of golfing Armageddon you get on a regular basis at the Saturday medal.

For a former world No.1 who won the Claret Jug in 2001 and was one of Woods’ principal rivals at the top of the global game during those years of prosperity, this was a sobering, humiliating day but one handled with accepting grace.

“It was all a bit of a blur and fairly unsettling, obviously,” Duval, pictured, said, before revealing that tendonitis in his arm had almost made it “impossible to continue”.

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Duval, who is ranked down in 2,080th in the world and does more TV work than competitive golf these days, added: “But I wasn’t hurt enough not to finish. Unless I’m really hurt or sick, I post my score. It’s just one of those god-awful nightmare scenarios that happened today and I happened to be on the wrong end of it.”

This was a sore one for Duval. Woods too was a bit sair. “I’m sore, yes, I’m sore,” he conceded as the dour, damp conditions did nothing for his battered back as he hirpled and grimaced his way round.

“I’m just not moving as well as I’d like to. And unfortunately you’ve got to be able to move in these conditions to shape the ball.

“I didn’t shape it at all. Everything was off the heel. I was just scraping it round and the best I could do was seven-over.

“I’m just trying to piece together a swing that will get me around a golf course. Unfortunately I did not post a very good score.”