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Fired-up Rory McIlroy is ready to roar at Irish Open

By Liam Kelly

Published 19/05/2016

One Direction's Niall Horan practices on the range during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
One Direction's Niall Horan practices on the range during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland chats to singer Niall Horan of One Direction on the range during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
ONe Direction's Niall Horan practices on the range during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland chats to singer Niall Horan of One Direction on the range during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Victor Dubuisson of France hits an approach shot on the 11th hole during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Thomas Bjorn of Denmark hits from a bunker on the 4th hole during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Former Rugby player Keith Wood of Ireland in action during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Bernd Wiesberger of Austria looks on during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Bernd Wiesberger of Austria tees off during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Thomas Bjorn of Denmark tees off on the 5th hole during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Stephen Gallacher of Scotland tees off on the 5th hole during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Stephen Gallacher of Scotland tees off on the 5th hole during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Bernd Wiesberger of Austria checks a yardage with his caddie during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain reacts during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain smiles during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Peter Lawrie of Ireland tees off on the 5th hole during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Former Rugby player Brian O'Driscoll tees off on the 14th hole during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: David Lingmerth of Sweden hits his 2nd shot on the 9th hole during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: David Lingmerth of Sweden hits his 2nd shot on the 9th hole during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Amateur Tom McKibbin of Northern Ireland hits an approach shot watched by former snooker player Dennis Taylor during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Amateur Tom McKibbin of Northern Ireland hits an approach shot during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: David Lingmerth of Sweden looks on with his caddie during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: David Lingmerth of Sweden tees off on the 10th hole during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Padraig Harrington of Ireland tees off during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Padraig Harrington of Ireland hits from a bunker on the 12th hole during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Padraig Harrington of Ireland hits from a bunker on the 12th hole during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Former snooker player Dennis Taylor tees off during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Adrian Otaegui of Spain hits from a bunker on the practice ground during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Martin Kaymer of Germany tees off during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Martin Kaymer of Germany tees off during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Padraig Harrington of Ireland tees off on the 13th hole during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: James Morrison of England tees off during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland smiles on the practice ground during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Anthony Wall of England tees off during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Hao Tong Li of China looks on during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Hao Tong Li of China reacts during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Hao Tong Li of China tees off during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Hao Tong Li of China looks on during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Hao Tong Li of China hits an iron shot during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Hao Tong Li of China hits an iron shot during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Hao Tong Li of China walks in the rain with his umbrella during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Hao Tong Li of China hits an iron shot during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Hao Tong Li of China walks in the rain with his umbrella during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Russell Knox of Scotland in action during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Russell Knox of Scotland in action during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Detail of the golfer Weather Vane on the Clubhouse roof during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Martin Kaymer of Germany looks on during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Martin Kaymer of Germany tees off during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Martin Kaymer of Germany smiles during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Martin Kaymer of Germany walks with his caddie Craig Connelly during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Martin Kaymer of Germany walks with his caddie Craig Connelly during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland tees off during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland jogs during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Russell Knox of Scotland tees off during a Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Danny Willett of England tees off on the 1st hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Danny Willett of England lines up with his caddie on the 1st hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Andrew Johnson of England tees off on the 1st hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits a drive on the range during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland catches a ball during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland catches a ball during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Detail of the golf bag of Ryder Cup European Captain Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland looks at his Player's Player of the Year award at a press conference during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Keith Pelley the Chief Executive of the European Tour speaks at a press conference during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Keith Pelley the Chief Executive of the European Tour speaks at a press conference during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Keith Pelley the Chief Executive of the European Tour speaks at a press conference during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Keith Pelley the Chief Executive of the European Tour presents Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland with his Player's Player of the Year award at a press conference during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Keith Pelley the Chief Executive of the European Tour presents Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland with his Player's Player of the Year award at a press conference during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Singer Niall Horan of One Direction practices on the range during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Singer Niall Horan of One Direction practices on the range during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland chats to singer Niall Horan of One Direction on the range during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland chats to singer Niall Horan of One Direction on the range during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks down the 1st hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks down the 1st hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the 1st hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland laughs on the 1st hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Jockey Ruby Walsh caddies for AP McCoy during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland looks on during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Former Jockey AP McCoy chats to Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Former Jockey AP McCoy tees off during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Former Jockey AP McCoy looks on during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks to the 1st tee during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the 1st hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the 1st hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: JP McManus tees off during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks to the 1st tee during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Jockey Ruby Walsh caddies for former jockey AP McCoy during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Jockey Ruby Walsh caddies for former jockey AP McCoy during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits his 2nd shot on the 2nd hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: (L-R) Jockey Ruby Walsh poses with Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and former jockey AP McCoy during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks to the 1st tee during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland looks down the 2nd hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the 2nd hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the 3rd hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland looks on during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland looks on during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland looks down the 2nd hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland talks at a press conference during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the 4th hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland looks down the 4th hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Dermot Desmond and JP McManus (R) look on during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy has not gone away, you know.

In fact, he will tell anyone who cares to listen that the critics write him off at their peril.

Yesterday at The K Club, ahead of today's opening round of the Irish Open, McIlroy came as close as he dared to biting back at the doubters and the doom merchants.

When you're the world No 3, and such a high-profile figure, the language must remain within the bounds of moderation and reason.

He did, however, use the 'F' word - but it was 'F' for frustration.

The Ulsterman last won in November 2015 when he clinched the DP World Tour championship in Dubai to fend off Danny Willett's challenge and retain his Race to Dubai title.

Here we are in the middle of May 2016, all of six months later. No victory for McIlroy yet.

A drought. Sound the alarm. There must be something amiss. Nothing could be further from the truth, according to the man himself.

"It frustrates me, I guess, the negative spin that's being put on it," he said.

"And I know expectations for myself are higher than other players, but you look at my record this year, with a third in Abu Dhabi, a fifth in Dubai, a third at Doral, fourth in the Match Play; my bad weeks are top tens, basically.

Hole 1
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The Irish Open K Club course.
Course map

"So it frustrates me that the narrative is, 'There's something missing in Rory's game', or 'What's wrong with Rory?' where I don't feel like there's anything wrong. It's very close, and it's not that I'm waiting for something to happen; I might need to make something happen, but it's not as far away as I feel some people think it is.

"I feel very comfortable with where my game is at. I know that if I go out and play my best, or close to my best, that I'm going to have a great chance to win this week, next week, basically all season, because I'm in a really good place with where my game is."

Now for the bad news. By his own admission at the Rory Foundation event at Dublin's Convention Centre on Tuesday night, McIlroy's record at the Irish Open is "pathetic".

He has played the Irish Open, now sponsored by Dubai Duty Free, nine times since 2007, and missed the cut four times, including in the 2013, '14, and '15 events.

"My performances in this event, obviously over the past three years, but going beyond that, haven't been to what I would obviously want.

"I think my best finish in the Irish Open is a seventh at Adare Manor in 2008, my first Irish Open as a professional, and since then it really hasn't been that good, one other top-10 at Portrush.

"I want to really change that this week with a good performance, and I feel like my game is in good enough shape to do that.

"I'm coming off a couple of decent weeks in the States where I felt like I played better than what the results suggested, so I'm looking forward to the week.

"The K Club is a golf course where I feel like I can do well. It sets up well for me," he said.

Prior to yesterday's round in the Pro-am, McIlroy last played 18 holes on the Ryder Cup Course in 2007.

He got around the back nine on Tuesday, but had no major concerns about his lack of experience on the Arnold Palmer-designed layout.

"I've played 27 holes on this golf course. I'll obviously play 18 later on in the Pro-Am, but I don't really know it that well," he said.

The K Club will forever bask in the glory of staging the 2006 Ryder Cup, and a young Rory, aged 17, was there to see Europe defeat the USA.

His journey began early on that Sunday, getting up at 5.30am to catch a bus south from his home in Holywood.

"I had been to the Ryder Cup in 2004 as part of the Junior Ryder Cup team, but in 2006 it was the first time I had experienced a European Ryder Cup, and obviously all the singsongs on the first tee and people stamping their feet. I just think it was a real jovial atmosphere, I guess.

"And then it seemed like Europe had all the momentum, and I was on 16 when Darren (Clarke) beat Zach Johnson.

"It was an emotional day. I had been to Heather's (Clarke's first wife) funeral six weeks earlier," said McIlroy.

The 27-year-old star had advice for the GUI amateurs in the field, Ulster pair John-Ross Galbraith and Colm Campbell as well as Jack Hume.

"I don't think the Irish amateurs should feel so much pressure this week," he said.

"I was lucky enough to play in a lot of European Tour events as an amateur and I felt like those were so important for me in my progress. It's a great learning experience."

Belfast Telegraph

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