Major disappointment for home fans as four big guns bow out
Lowry still in the hunt just two shots adrift of the leaders
Rory McIlroy during the second round of the Irish Open at Carton House. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
To lose one Major champion from the Irish Open by the midpoint may be considered unfortunate; but, to lose all four, as happened here, could be construed as rather careless.
And the metaphoric sound of balloons bursting that yesterday greeted in turn the departures of Graeme McDowell, Pádraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and finally Rory McIlroy left for a deflated atmosphere among the crowd of 21,377 who attended the Co Kildare venue.
A saviour of sorts emerged in the host venue’s own attached touring professional Shane Lowry, who finished with back-to-back birdies for a 70 for 137 to lift some of the gloom. It put him just two shots behind midway leaders Peter Uihlein and Robert Rock.
But the massed exodus of Ireland’s four modern-day Major winners was nevertheless a bit of a shock.
McIlroy, in particular, had sought to ignite his season here. But the world number two again struggled to achieve the primary objective of any professional, which is to get the ball in the hole in as few shots as possible.
He shot a 72 for 146, which left him two shots outside the cut mark that fell on level par 144.
Rather than be tempted to add any further tournaments onto his schedule before the British Open in a fortnight’s time, McIlroy has decided to stick with his original plans which involve corporate commitments (with Santander and Nike) and, also, one to attend his cousin’s wedding next weekend. “I said to her I would go to that,” he said, putting family first.
“If I didn’t have these couple of things to do over the next couple of weeks, I probably would add a tournament to be honest. But I just need to find a little bit of consistency in the ball striking,” he explained.
So, in deciding not to add on the French Open this week or the following week’s Scottish Open, preferring to visit Muirfield for a number of practice rounds and to get acquainted with the famed links course for the first time, McIlroy will head into the season’s third Major in search of his game but dismissed any suggestion that he should replace his driver.
“No. I’d much rather play with this one and not even think about that,” he responded, before adding: “It’s definitely more swing than it is club. If I was swinging my best, I would stand up and hit any sort of shot that I want to hit.”
McIlroy expanded: “I definitely drove it better out there which is a good thing, and just need to keep working on that, because driving the ball in the fairway is sort of the key to my game. And if I can start doing that again, I’ll start to give myself chances to win tournaments.”
He did add however, he would work with Nike’s technical department on tweaking the club in the coming week.