It’s a huge, huge privilege to go inside the ropes at the Open. There was only one group to follow on Friday morning: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Charl Schwartzel.

I was actually standing next to Philip Reid, the Irish Times journalist who got hit in the face by Dustin Johnson’s ball on the 9th hole. I’m fine by the way, thanks for asking.

Anyway, I’ve been writing about Rory McIlroy’s equipment for months but this was a chance to get up close and personal to see how it was all working.

Let’s remind ourselves of his TaylorMade set-up for Royal Birkdale.

Rory McIlroy’s equipment:

M2 Driver, M2 Tour 3-wood, TP UDI 1-iron, P750 3 and 4-irons, Rors Proto 5-9, Milled Grind wedges (48, 54, 60), TP Juno putter, TP5x ball.

The 1-iron, which has 16˚ of loft, is in the bag this week in favour of his 5-wood. The only other change is a fresh set of wedges.

Here’s a very quick summary of how Rory McIlroy’s equipment was all working

1st: Absolute monster hit with the 3-wood, 50 yards past his playing partners, which left him with a flick with the wedge for a one-putt birdie.

2nd: 1-iron off the tee to the first cut on the right but again way ahead of DJ and Charl. Super iron shot then a two-putt par.

Rory McIlroy equipment

3rd: Monster hit with the driver which found the middle of the fairway for a super iron shot and one-putt birdie.

Rory McIlroy equipment

4th: 8-iron which missed back right but a solid up and down for par.

5th: Long iron off the tee into A1 position on the fairway, wedge in to set up another look at birdie but two-putts for par.

6th: Another bomb with the driver, iron to six feet, one-putt. Birdie

7th: Just a mid-iron to the front of the green and two putts.

8th: Driver working a treat again. Mid iron found the front right bunker which is played sumptuously for a good par save.

Rory McIlroy equipment

9th: Low stinger with the 1-iron to the left side of the fairway, not the best approach but a good par save.

10th: Hit a perfect iron shot which had the full club twirl but it just ran into a bunker on the right of the fairway. Pitched out to short of the green then up and down for a great par save.

11th: 4-iron off the tee which missed to the right of the fairway but no trouble scrambling a par.

Rory McIlroy equipment

12th: Solid iron shot but it finds the bunker. Another lovely up and down for par.

13th: Driver. His worst of the round to this point. Misses fairway to the right, can’t get to the green, chips on, two putts for his first bogey of the day.

Rory McIlroy equipment

14th: A mid iron misses the green to the left but it’s a superb chip to allow a tap in par.

15th: His second poor drive of the day goes into the spectators to the right of the fairway. Can only punch out into a bunker then play out to the fairway before a pitch and two putts for a bogey six.

Rory McIlroy equipment

16th: Pummels another bomb with the driver which only leaves a wedge which goes long. Decent par but a missed opportunity.

17th: Stunning drive and then an even more impressive 1-iron which just goes over the back of the green. Great up and down for birdie.

18th: Driver again but it’s just missing to the left of the fairway. Not happy with his short iron in but it’s on the green. Two putts for a 68.

Let’s take a quick look at the stats:

Fairways hit: 43 per cent
Greens in regulation: 50 per cent
Average drive: 313 yards
Putts: 24

His round was better than those stats suggest and that’s six putts better than his opening round.

All of Rory McIlroy’s equipment looks to be working really well and, without being red hot, the putter seems absolutely fine to me.

His two bogeys came when he missed the fairway with driver but other than that it was a pretty impressive display off the tee…

At least the shoes are looking good Charl…

It was a bad day at the office for Mr Schwartzel, shooting 78, but he was wearing a lovely pair of new FootJoy shoes.

These are the Energize – a waterproof, lightweight weight but spiked model. Sadly not available in the UK yet but I’m looking forward to getting my hands on (Ed: Should that not be feet in?) a pair…