Rory McIlroy played tennis at golf’s Irish Open – on Twitter after an unseemly row with former American tour player Jay Townsend broke out.

McIlroy, currently dating tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, saw his opening round ruined by a double bogey on the final hole after he went into the water in front of the 18th green.

The US Open champion ended with a one under par 70, seven shots off the blistering pace set by India’s Jeev Mikha Singh who led with a 63.
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British Open winner Darren Clarke signed for a two under par 69, Graeme McDowell finished on one over and Padraig Harrington on two over on a day when Ireland’s Major winners were feted by a huge 18,000 strong crowd.

However, it was McIlroy’s Twitter row with former European Tour player Townsend that provoked most debate in the bars of Killarney on Wednesday night.

Townsend, working for Irish television at the event, was very critical of McIlroy’s course management on that 18th hole.

The American tweeted: “McIlroy’s course management was shocking. Some of the worst course management I have ever seen beyond under-10 boys’ golf competition.”

McIlroy quickly replied: “Shut up ... you’re a commentator and a failed golfer, your opinion means nothing!”

Townsend then suggested that McIlroy should sack his caddy JP Fitzgerald and hire Tiger Woods’ former bagman Steve Williams instead.

An angry McIlroy then tweeted: “Well I stand by my caddie.”

Later, McIlroy confirmed that he has blocked Townsend on Twitter.

“He’s been having a go at JP every now and again since then and this was the first time I’ve responded - it was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” McIlroy said.

“Now I’ve blocked him on Twitter so I won’t be reading anything more.”