He had a 5-iron left into the green, which was unusual only because he typically only hits 5-iron for his second shot into par 5s.
And while 2014 champion McIlroy, who suggested his pre-tournament odds of 20/1 represented a good bet, could only manage a 71, that was quite an achievement after playing the first six holes in five over par; he's now 25/1 with Sky Bet.
The four-times major victor came into the tournament at Royal Birkdale having failed to make the cut in three of his last four competitions, and got off to a miserable start with bogeys at five of the first six holes.
Notes: Heavy rain and strong winds are in the forecast for today's second round.
"Given the forecast coming in, I thought you really needed to be in the red", said Spieth, a two-time major victor. So things are in check.
But who are the players who need to keep their wits about them on Friday just to make it to Saturday?
"I'd call it a top five major round that I've played".
McIlroy's turnaround was spurred by Fitzgerald's pep talk and a decision to trust the swing he'd been practicing on the range. "When I play like that, I don't care who plays like that, they're disappointed". "So it feels very good to be able to post a red number today".
"It was nice to make birdies coming in". "I sat down to review the weather last night with the yardage book in hand, I kind of planned or plotted away around this golf course".
"I think there are some wonderful players out there now that people want to come and watch, and the game is moving forward".
He was penalised two shots for moving a plant close to his ball on the 17th hole but the penalty was lifted after rules officials accepted his explanation that the lie of his ball was not improved.
Put it this way, it will be a surprise if Spieth doesn't become Open champion one day and, by the sounds of things, this year's venue has got his juices flowing. However, playing partner Lee Westwood realised it was growing.
"Tomorrow looks like it's going to be brutal", he said. Spieth was in thick rough to the right of the 16th fairway when his shot crept into the back of a pot bunker.
'Roger [Federer] is the sporting athlete I look up to and can try and model, ' Rose said. "Basically after that they made the decision there was no stroke penalty".
Injury and a lack of form have blighted Howell's career over the past two seasons, with back, hip and wrist trouble all contributing to him missing 19 cuts over the last two years. "It's a bit like Ryder Cup at Medinah in 2012".
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He should be around for the weekend this time after a brilliant finish saw him birdie each of the last three holes.
"I hope he gets well".
As the rain and wind eased, Noren hit his approach into 5 feet and hole the putt for a 3.
There were some interesting fashion choices on Thursday.
So too Adam Scott with Rickie Fowler, and Paul Casey.
"I think when we moved a year ago we took what was frankly a fairly exhausted and outdated broadcast and turned it into absolutely world class and raised the whole level of the way it was shown", Slumbers said. "I'd give myself a nine (out of 10)".
He's now broken par in seven straight major championship rounds and is acting like a guy who expected little else. "And it would be a hell of a party".
But the 38-year-old admitted he felt the nerves on the first tee.
He has been through these mini-slumps a couple of times in the 10 years since he first played the British Open at Carnoustie.
He also likes what he has seen of Royal Birkdale, as fine a links as there is in England. So I kept a good, positive attitude.
"It hasn't sunk in yet. I thought par would be a decent score on my first attempt".
The world No. 145 is playing at The Open for the first time since 1998, when he made the cut, also at Royal Birkdale, Southport. "I'm trying to get back there and I'm doing everything I can".
His achievements since then mark him down as one of the greats of his generation, despite some suggestions he has not yet lived up to his full potential.
Fitness issues have played a part in his relative decline, but the 28-year-old remains determined to compete for top honours.
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