Ballyliffin already a success as host Rory McIlroy makes cut
In spite of suffering from continuing putting woes during the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open - Rory McIlroy ensured he would be in Ballyliffin for the full week.
Having missed the cut in four of the last five years of his ‘home’ competition, the world number eight finished on one over for his second round, leaving him one under overall.
“It’s a success in terms of the last few years,” smiled McIlroy on his extended stay in Co Donegal.
McIlroy - who is hosting the event through The Rory Foundation for the last time in four years - carded three birdies and four bogeys, three of which came in his last five holes, during another frustrating day.
The resulting 73 left the four-times Major champion on one under par and seven shots off the clubhouse lead held by New Zealand’s Ryan Fox, the son of former All Black fly-half Grant Fox.
“The game felt okay but I didn’t hole anything again on the greens,” McIlroy said.
“I hit my best putt of the day on the 18th [his ninth hole] and it came back to me with a horseshoe. It sums up the last couple of days; even the good ones are not going in.
“It tested my patience and I was mumbling to myself walking from the 18th
green to the first tee, but I will keep plugging away and at least I get to play the next two days. It’s a success in terms of the last few years.
“All I can do is keep giving myself those chances and not get too frustrated. If I can keep knocking on the door, hopefully sooner or later it will turn around.”
Although the dry conditions mean the course is playing shorter than its full length of 7,462 yards, McIlroy admits it will be tough to play aggressively and mount a charge up the leaderboard.
“If you start to take too much on off the tee and leave yourself shorter irons in, you bring more of the bunkers into play and the rough into play more and it’s just not worth it I think,” the former world number one said.
“So it’s just a matter of being patient, hitting fairways, hitting greens, giving yourself chances and if you can get a few to drop early on, then hopefully you get a bit of momentum from that.
“The crowds are fantastic. The weather is obviously great and that’s brought a lot of people out.
“It’s a great atmosphere out there. It’s enjoyable to play in front of them and hopefully I can give them something to cheer about over the last couple of days.”
Defending champion, Jon Rham put a tough first day behind him to finish on three-under.
“I am happy to make the cut and be under par today,” he said.
“These scores aren’t as low as I think a lot of people would have predicted. I never thought they were going to be too low because the course is extremely firm and it’s difficult to make putts.
“Once we make the cut, seven back, a lot bigger margins have been made come backs from, Alex Noren being one of them last week.
“I think I was about as aggressive as you can be today. I don’t think you can be much more aggressive than I was today.
“Besides the first three holes where I hit all fairway bunkers, kind of paid off. I had short irons into the green, even sometimes I missed the fairway, I still had short irons into the green and a lot more control.
“Hopefully keep going and get a few more shots close,” added the Spaniard.