Saturday 23 September 2017

McIlroy gets a dose of the putter stutters in frustrating 'homecoming'

Rory McILroy after his bogey putt on the 18th green. Photo: Sportsfile
Rory McILroy after his bogey putt on the 18th green. Photo: Sportsfile

Karl MacGinty

ONE of the greatest days in Irish golfing history was spoiled for Rory McIlroy as a dose of the 'putter stutters' spoiled his Irish Open 'homecoming' at Royal Portrush.

The Irish Open received a tumultuous welcome on its first visit to Northern Ireland since 1953. Even torrential rain and a thunderstorm which caused a 95 minutes interruption to play failed to dampen the heady atmosphere in Portrush.

Yet an unforgettable day ended in frustration for McIlroy as he three-putted two of his final three holes, a disappointing first-round 70 leaving him five strokes off the lead shared by India's Jeev Milkha Singh and France's Gregory Bourdy.

McIlroy was four-under and well within striking range of the lead at the 16th tee, but a three-putt bogey there and another at the last, plus a slipshod par five at 17, knocked the wind out of the 23-year-old.

Massive

McIlroy admitted feeling nervous on the first tee as a massive crowd standing 10-deep waited with bated breath for his first shot of this long-awaited tournament.

"My tee shot there wasn't the best," he admitted. "Yet I felt good out there today, not putting too much pressure on myself and just trying to play my game. So, to drop a couple of shots at the finish was disappointing.

"It was just a sloppy finish, but, hopefully, I can pick up those shots early tomorrow and get back to where I was on the 15th hole today," added McIlroy, who revealed he lost the pace of the greens when they slowed after the weather delay.

Despite his obvious disappointment, McIlroy was delighted to have girlfriend, Danish tennis ace, Caroline Wozniacki, at his side in Portrush. "I wish she was still in Wimbledon," he said. "But obviously it still was nice to see her."

Irish Independent

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