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Rory eager to 'embrace' home event despite feeling 'suffocated' in past


Rory McIlroy with former footballer Andriy Shevchenko. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy with former footballer Andriy Shevchenko. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy with former footballer Andriy Shevchenko. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy has a full complement of clubs at his disposal for this week's Irish Open, but admits the pressures that come with the tournament have left him feeling "suffocated" in the past.

The final round of the US Open a fortnight ago saw McIlroy throw one club in frustration and then leaned so hard on another that he bent the shaft out of shape on his way to a quadruple-bogey eight on the 11th hole. The offending nine iron has since been repaired as the world number two seeks to do the same to his reputation in a season which has yet to produce a victory and which saw him walk off the course midway through the second round of the Honda Classic, where he was defending champion.

"The club throw; I hit the fairway on the fifth hole and had to play my second shot left-handed," said McIlroy, whose tee shot rolled off the sloping fairway onto the bank of a water hazard.

"It was unlucky, it was frustration, whatever you want to call it.

"And then on 11, I hit my tee shot in the water and dropped and hit my third shot in the water. I just got frustrated. It definitely wasn't the right thing to do.

"I wouldn't recommend anyone or anyone watching on TV or any kids to start throwing their clubs or bending their nine irons. But the nine iron is intact and got a new shaft this week and it's ready to go.

"I guess there's other ways to show disappointment. Taking it out on your golf clubs probably isn't the right way to do it. It doesn't really set a good example, I guess, for people watching me and maybe trying to emulate what I'm doing."

McIlroy's first experience of the Irish Open came as a 16-year-old amateur in 2005, when he shot rounds of 71 and 81 to miss the cut and remembers being thrown out of bars on Friday evening as he was too young to drink.


But while the biggest crowds that week were with Colin Montgomerie in the group behind, McIlroy will be the star attraction at Carton House as he looks to rediscover the form which made him world number one and brought him two major titles.

Asked how he would manage expectations and avoid feeling suffocated, McIlroy said: "That's actually a good word. That's something I've felt in a couple of Irish Opens is suffocated and having that burden and that pressure and that expectation.

"It's much better having fans for you and really wanting you to do well than people rooting against you, so it's a great privilege to have.

"The best thing that I can do this week is go out and enjoy myself, smile, and try and play the best that I can and show everyone how much I appreciate their support.

"That's what I've tried to do the last couple of years, just try to embrace the whole week and enjoy it.

"You don't get a chance to come back here very often and play, so it's nice to be able to do it and enjoy it while you do it. It's just a little different here, because I guess you don't feel so much that people necessarily want you to win at any other tournament.

"Of course you have your fans and people that come to watch you and support you, but here everyone lives every shot with you and you make a birdie and there's a huge roar and if you miss a putt, you can hear the disappointment in the crowd."