Sunday 18 August 2019

'I hope I don't see you in Memphis because hopefully you are still drinking out of the Claret Jug' - McIlroy's text exchange with Lowry

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, hits from the sand on the 10th green during a practice round for the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational Wednesday, July 24, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, hits from the sand on the 10th green during a practice round for the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational Wednesday, July 24, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
McIlroy: Aiming to bounce back in US. Photo: Getty

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy admits he needs to change his mental approach to Majors, but told Open champion Shane Lowry that winning the Claret Jug will change his life forever.

Speaking ahead of the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis, the world No 3 confessed that he was shocked to feel his hand trembling as he put the tee in the ground for the first round at Royal Portrush, where he ran an quadruple-bogey eight on the first hole and shot 79.

He revealed that he had to choke back tears as many as four times throughout his battling second round 65 due to the warmth of the crowd reaction but hailed a "fairytale ending" to the event with pal Lowry claiming his first Major.

"He texted me on Friday night with words of encouragement," McIlroy said. "He said to me, 'I'll see you in Memphis'. And I said, 'I hope I don't see you in Memphis because hopefully you are still drinking out of the Claret Jug'.

"That obviously came to fruition so that was nice. I texted him straight after and said, 'It's going to change your life.' You saw the reaction in his home town and the amount of people who came out to see him.

"It is a life-changer, especially doing it at Portrush. He's going to be a national hero for the rest of his life.

"I am just so happy for him. It is always great to see friends do so well."

McIlroy revealed that he was stunned by his nervousness on the first tee and needs to reassess his mental approach to Majors going forward even if the warmth of the crowd for his second round 65 made a missed cut feel like "one of the best experiences I have ever had on a golf course."

As for the first round, he said: "I was so relaxed in the warm-up and so relaxed on the putting green and when I was announced and put my tee in the ground, I noticed my hand trembling. I thought, 'that's interesting'."

He added: "I think I have learned a lot from the four Majors this year. How I started, how I played in them and how I tried to approach them.

"I almost downplayed them this year and tried to treat them like other events and I have realised they are not like any other event and you need to have a different mindset and prepare differently.

"I tried different strategy this year. It didn't quite work for me and I need to reassess that going forward."

European Ryder Cup captain Pádraig Harrington and West Waterford's Séamus Power are in action in the modified stableford format Barracuda Championship in Nevada.

Played at Reno's Montreaux Golf and Country Club, it's a key event for Power who is 143rd in the FedExCup standings with only next week's Wyndham Championship remaining to make the top 125 who qualify for the play-offs and keep their full PGA Tour privileges.

Attacking golf is rewarded in Reno with eight points for an albatross, five for an eagle, two for a birdie, zero for a par, minus one for a bogey and minus three for a double bogey or worse.

Meanwhile, Des Smyth could be making his final appearance in The Senior Open at the place where he said goodbye to the amateur ranks.

Now 66, he played for Ireland in the Home Internationals at Royal Lytham and St Annes in 1973 before going on to have a storied professional career.

In a nice twist of fate, his long-time caddie Ray Latchford also caddied for him in those international matches 46 years ago.

Smyth, who hinted earlier this year that he was coming to the end of his competitive career, is joined at the Lancashire links by debutant Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley.

The LPGA Tour is in Europe this week for the fourth of the five professional Majors, The Evian Championship.

Forrest Little amateur Julie McCarthy is the only Irish player in the field having earned an exemption as the leading player in the Arnold Palmer Cup in June.

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