McIlroy ready to come out fighting
Rory McIlroy hopes to use the Irish Open to get over two early knockouts – Ricky Hatton’s in Vegas and his own at Sawgrass.
Rory McIlroy hopes to use this week’s Irish Open to get over two second-round knock-outs – Ricky Hatton’s in Las Vegas and then his own at the Players Championship in Florida last Friday.
The rising star of European golf, 20 nine days ago, went to see Hatton fight Manny Pacquaio as “a kind of birthday present to myself”.
That did not turn out as McIlroy wanted, though, and nor did his debut at Sawgrass.
After an opening 74 which included a triple bogey six on the famous short 17th he followed with a 77, his worst round of the year, and missed the halfway cut by seven.
With the County Louth club in Baltray only an hour from his home near Belfast the Dubai Desert Classic champion is sure of a huge following – and he aims to put on a good show for them.
“We don’t play that much links golf on the European Tour, so it’s great that The 3 Irish Open is back here,” he said.
“I am looking forward to playing it so much because I love links golf. Returning to it after a couple of months in America playing courses like Augusta and Doral will be a test, but it’s a test I’m relishing.”
McIlroy was 20th on his first appearance at The Masters, his fifth top-20 finish out of five in the States this season, but perhaps not surprisingly he has gone off the boil a bit since.
He admits the effort he put into the first major of the year – and his first as a professional – left him “a little bit flat and tired” for the following week’s US Tour event, where he was down in 58th place, and he failed to bounce back at Sawgrass after two weeks off.
Victory this Sunday, however, would put him right on the heels of Australian Geoff Ogilvy – his quarter-final conqueror and eventually winner of the WGC match play in February – in Europe’s “Race To Dubai” money list.
The competition is not as tough as last week, but it is still an impressive line-up.
Half last year’s Ryder Cup team are in the field and three of them – Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and Miguel Angel Jimenez – are paired together in the first two rounds tomorrow and Friday.
McIlroy tees off with Colin Montgomerie, under whose captaincy he hopes to make his Ryder Cup debut next year, and defending champion Richard Finch.
Pictures of the Hull golfer’s win at Adare Manor went round the world last May, but most of them were of him toppling over and falling into the river after playing his third shot to the final green.
John Daly’s pairing with Paul McGinley is sure to attract a big following too.
Daly finished joint second in Italy last week, but says of Baltray: “It’s totally different golf and you’ve got to have some luck.
“It’s more imagination golf, which I love to play. Every hole changes because of the wind – one day it could be a driver and the next day a six-iron.
“I still am not comfortable off any of the tees and that concerns me a little bit.”
Injury rules Open champion Cameron Smith out of BMW Championship
The Australian world number two currently sits third in the FedEx Cup standings, 1,132 points behind leader Will Zalatoris.
Will Zalatoris triumphs in dramatic playoff to claim first PGA Tour win
The American defeated Austria’s Sepp Straka in three extra holes at TPC Southwind – despite not making a birdie.
Ewen Ferguson seals wire-to-wire victory at ISPS Handa World Invitational
The 26-year-old Scot also won the Qatar Masters in March.
New Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald motivated by ‘bitter’ memories of 2021 defeat
Stenson was stripped of the role for breaking his contract by joining the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series.
The task facing Luke Donald after replacing Henrik Stenson
Stenson was appointed on March 15 and said he was fully committed to a role before signing with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series.
Tony Finau claims second straight PGA Tour victory
The American won the 3M Open in his previous outing.
Henrik Stenson cushions Ryder Cup blow with £3.6m debut win in LIV Golf
The Swede was stripped of his role as Europe captain after joining the Saudi-backed breakaway tour.
Former Masters champion Bubba Watson becomes latest player to join LIV Golf
The left-hander is currently sidelined by a knee injury and is not expected to play until next season,
Luke Donald tipped to replace Henrik Stenson as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain
The Swede lost the job 127 days after his appointment following his decision to join the LIV Golf series.