Belfast Telegraph

The Open loses its star power as host McIlroy exits under a very dark cloud

By Paul Kelly

There's a reason why they don't hold parties on the moon... there's no atmosphere.

Rory McIlroy missed the cut at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open yesterday, taking with him much of the event's star power.

Under grey skies and with occasional showers, the tournament host couldn't improve on his opening round 72 at Portstewart, adding a second round 73 to miss the cut by a wide margin.

His absence will be felt everywhere, on the gate, in merchandising and in the number of viewers tuning in on television.

The 28-year-old has invested huge personal capital in the tournament and used it as a vehicle to promote and develop the work of his Foundation.

He deserves great credit for driving the tournament forward, generating interest, bringing in sponsorship and helping to promote Northern Ireland but unfortunately, his game couldn't match the expectation this week.

It will come as no solace, but Rory will be able to watch the British and Lions decider tomorrow without worrying about missing his tee-time.

The Lions' battle with the All-Blacks has not been far from the thoughts of many of the players this week, especially New Zealander Ryan Fox, who has particular family involvement. Ryan is the son of famous All-Black outhalf, Grant Fox, who played in the 1993 series victory over the Lions.

Grant is now an All-Blacks selector while his son is playing golf half-way around the world and doing very well at it.

Fox junior won the NI Open at Galgorm Castle last year and he fired a second round 66 to finish the day in a tie for fourth, two shots off the lead.

"It was either play really, really good or really really badly this week," said Ryan.

"I'm happy I played really good and I definitely won't have any issues watching the rugby. NI has been very good to be me so far. I really like both courses. I guess when you have a golf course you like and it suits your eye you can shoot some good numbers and I have taken advantage of it this week."

Naturally, Ryan has his fingers crossed that today's game goes the way of the All Blacks.

"Look I'm hopeful they win and I haven't been shot for saying that yet this week," added Ryan.

"I will be doing my best to win this week and I'm sure the ABs will be doing their best tomorrow."

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