Friday 30 September 2016

McIlroy on Irish Open meltdown: 'It was not quite as difficult as I made it look'

Adam Cullen at Royal County Down

Published 28/05/2015 | 10:31

World number one and tournament host Rory McIlroy at least retained his sense of humour despite suffering a nightmare first round in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down on Thursday.

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McIlroy carded nine bogeys and no birdies in an opening 80 which left him dead last of the 78 morning starters and in need of a brilliant second round on Friday to avoid a third straight missed cut in the event.

"It was not quite as difficult as I made it look," admitted McIlroy after an opening round played in cold, blustery conditions and the occasional rain shower.

"It's disappointing because I want to go out there and play well, not just for myself but for a lot of other people. I'll just have to pick myself up and go out there tomorrow and shoot a good one.

28 May 2015; Rory McIlroy putts on the 5th green. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship 2015, Day 1. Royal County Down Golf Club, Co. Down. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
28 May 2015; Rory McIlroy putts on the 5th green. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship 2015, Day 1. Royal County Down Golf Club, Co. Down. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Rory McIlroy reacts as he finishes his round on 9 over par during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Rory McIlroy reacts to a missed putt on his final hole as he finished the day on 9 over par during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Darren Clarke on the 9th green during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Rory McIlroy reacts to a missed putt on his final hole as he finished the day on 9 over par during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Danny Willett watches his second shot on the 9th during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Danny Willett on the 9th green during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Rory McIlroy reacts to a missed putt on his final hole as he finished the day on 9 over par during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Rory McIlroy reacts to a missed putt on his final hole as he finished the day on 9 over par during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Miguel Angel Jimenez plays from the rough on the 18th during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Lee Westwood watches his tee shot from the 17th during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Graeme McDowell plays from the rough on the 18th during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Danny Willett watches his tee shot on the 10th during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Martin Kaymer plays from the rough on the 12th during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Lee Westwood watches his approach shot to the 18th green during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Lee Westwood (left) and Graeme McDowell on the 18th green during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Rory McIlroy stretches on the 11th green during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Rory McIlroy plays onto the 11th green during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Rory McIlroy watches a shot from the rough on the 18th during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Rory McIlroy putts on the 10th green during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 28, 2015. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
File photo dated 27-09-2014 of Europe's Graeme McDowell. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday May 27, 2015. Former US Open champion Graeme McDowell believes Royal County Down could become the second course in Northern Ireland on the Open Championship rota. Mike Egerton/PA Wire.
28 May 2015; Rory McIlroy, left, and Martin Kaymer shake hands on the 18th green after finishing their rounds. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship 2015, Day 1. Royal County Down Golf Club, Co. Down. Picture credit: John Dickson / SPORTSFILE
28 May 2015; A general view of large crowds on the course. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship 2015, Day 1. Royal County Down Golf Club, Co. Down. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
28 May 2015; Rory McIlroy walks to the 14th tee box. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship 2015, Day 1. Royal County Down Golf Club, Co. Down. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
28 May 2015; Martin Kaymer, left, and Rory McIlroy sit at the 4th tee box during their round. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship 2015, Day 1. Royal County Down Golf Club, Co. Down. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
28 May 2015; Martin Kaymar plays his third shot from the rough on the 12th. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship 2015, Day 1. Royal County Down Golf Club, Co. Down. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
28 May 2015; Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland, on the 10th green. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship 2015, Day 1. Royal County Down Golf Club, Co. Down. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
28 May 2015; Graeme McDowell tees off at 1st. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship 2015, Day 1. Royal County Down Golf Club, Co. Down. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
28 May 2015; Lee Westwood, England, on the 11th tee box. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship 2015, Day 1. Royal County Down Golf Club, Co. Down. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
28 May 2015; Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland, watches his shot from the rough to the 18th green. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship 2015, Day 1. Royal County Down Golf Club, Co. Down. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
28 May 2015; Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland, plays his second shot to the 17th green. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship 2015, Day 1. Royal County Down Golf Club, Co. Down. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
28 May 2015; Rory McIlroy tees off on the 16th. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship 2015, Day 1. Royal County Down Golf Club, Co. Down. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
28 May 2015; Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler, right, in conversation during their round. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship 2015, Day 1. Royal County Down Golf Club, Co. Down. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
28 May 2015; Darren Clarke, Northern Ireland, walks from the 16th tee box. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship 2015, Day 1. Royal County Down Golf Club, Co. Down. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
28 May 2015; Rory McIlroy tees off on the 13th. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship 2015, Day 1. Royal County Down Golf Club, Co. Down. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
28 May 2015; Martin Kaymar, right, and Rory McIlroy make their way to the 11th fairway. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship 2015, Day 1. Royal County Down Golf Club, Co. Down. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
28 May 2015; A large gallery watches the day's play with the Mourne mountains as a backdrop. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship 2015, Day 1. Royal County Down Golf Club, Co. Down. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
28 May 2015; Lee Westwood, England, watches his tee shot on the 13th tee box. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship 2015, Day 1. Royal County Down Golf Club, Co. Down. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

"My goal will be to make some birdies, make my first birdie of the tournament at some point."

Read more: The secret behind Rory McIlroy's €150k super car revealed

McIlroy, who missed the cut in his defence of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last week, was supported by large galleries from the sell-out 20,000 crowd and added: "I want to give them something to cheer about and not just get sympathy claps as I got coming off the ninth green.

"I felt like I put myself in good positions off the tee but I was caught between trying to play two ways. I was hitting it well on the range, keeping it down and hitting half shots, but the wind was not up that much on the course and that led to missing greens, which led to lots of eight to 12-foot putts for par, which led to missing all of them."

McIlroy was not alone in struggling, with playing partner and US Open champion Martin Kaymer also failing to record a single birdie in a round of 79, although the final member of the marquee group, Rickie Fowler, carded a 71 to lie two shots off the lead shared by Danny Willett and Soren Kjeldsen.

Willett, McIlroy and Fowler all played in the 2007 Walker Cup at Royal County Down, which the United States won by a single point, but Willett admitted: "It's a lot different playing this course in a stroke play event. In match play you could just pick the ball up if you were having a bad hole!"

Fowler's round could have been even better as he birdied the 10th and 11th before three-putting from 20 feet for par on the 12th, but the 26-year-old also spared a thought for playing partner McIlroy.

"It's tough to see," said Fowler, who finished second behind McIlroy in the Open at Hoylake last year and was fifth in 2011. "You don't want to see someone struggle and not the start that he was looking for this week. I'm assuming that it'll be a little different day tomorrow for him.

"That's golf. We've all been through it, and I'm sure we'll go out and have some fun, hopefully feed off of each other tomorrow."

Read more: Irish Open 2015: Hole-by-hole guide to Royal County Down

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