McIlroy admits he felt ‘suffocated’ by Irish Open in the past
World number two says club throwing at US Open ‘wasn’t right thing to do’
“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.
“I guess 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.”
Meanwhile, Graeme McDowell will attempt to put his US Open nightmare behind him by ticking an item off his golfing “bucket list” this week.
McDowell was among the favourites at Merion a fortnight ago given his two tournament victories this year and superb US Open record – he was second last year after his victory in 2010 – but missed the cut after rounds of 76 and 77.
However, the 33-year-old has the ideal opportunity to bounce back at Carton House.
“There’s no doubt the Irish Open is on my golfing bucket list,” McDowell said. “It’s an event that I’ve never really competed in. It’s an event I would love to win and I would love to add it to my CV.
“To win your national Open is a very special win in a player’s heart. It’s been almost 70 years since a Northern Irish player has won this event (Fred Daly in 1946). That’s a stat we would love to change this weekend.
“There’s no doubt I would love to win this one. It’s certainly one I’ll be giving 100 per cent to this week.
“It kicks off a very busy summer of golf for me and Merion has done nothing but motivate me and make me more hungry for being in the mix come the weekend. I’m ready to go this week and I’m looking forward to it.”