"I was hitting driver as much as I could but was missing it both ways and was a bit more conservative coming in".
"Everyone acts like this is the first time I've been bandaged up", he said, smiling.
The biggest crowds, however, will probably be with Woods, who was due to tee off at 3.21pm local time alongside Japan's Hideki Matsuyama and Scotland's top-ranked golfer, Russell Knox.
Last month, Koepka showed his versatility by winning on a much different - and more hard - U.S. Open layout at Shinnecock Hills.
But just as we've seen time and time again with Woods since his latest return, he couldn't hold the momentum.
"Speed-wise, [this course is playing] about the same [as when I won at Hoylake in 2006]", said Woods. Quite a few balls are going right down the middle of the fairway and ending up in bad spots.
Even more fun would be a major with Woods in contention.
Herbert, one of Australian golf's most exciting and colourful young talents, said he doubted if Woods would have remembered him.
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Now 29, McIlroy is aiming to end a four-year drought without a major victory but the trend is towards the strong contingent from the United States maintaining a firm grip on the sport's biggest prizes.
"The golf course is great for me".
His Carnoustie housemates already have eight major titles between them and now Kevin Kisner is hoping to making it nine after a brilliant start to the 147th Open Championship.
Van Rooyen was far from the only player to struggle at the 18th, the scene of Frenchman Jean Van de Velde's infamous meltdown in 1999, when he frittered away a three-shot lead on the last day as he tried to play out of the Barry Burn.
"They're some of the best players in the world and deservedly so, and they're going to take some beating", added McIlroy, who made his major debut as an amateur here 11 years ago. That year, he tied for fourth at the Masters and sixth at The Open.
"I played better than what the score indicates", he said. So while concrete fairways seem to lend themselves to closer distances to these greens and more birdie opportunities, that wasn't always the case on Thursday.
Other than McIlroy, the hoped-for British and Irish challenge never materialised in great numbers either, with links specialist Matt Southgate and renaissance man Danny Willett faring best in matching Rory's score, while Bristolian Chris Wood shot 70.
He also had to make a 4-footer at 17 for par. 'If I'm honest, I thought I was stealing a couple before the brainfart at the 15th cost me a double bogey'. "I pretty much wore them out today", he said.