Irish Open 2015 tournament has been great success, says Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy may not have made the cut for the Irish Open, but he still received a cheer fit for a champion when he was introduced on the 18th green when the tournament was all over.
McIlroy had hoped to be picking up the beautiful piece of Waterford Crystal himself that went with the winners cheque of £294,000.
Instead he was involved in the party presenting it to Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen, who emerged victorious from a one hole play-off with England's Eddie Pepperell and Austria's Bernd Wiesberger.
All three had finished on two under par after another testing afternoon on the links course where the wind howled and rain lashed down in between sun showers.
As McIlroy left the Royal County Down Golf Club, driving away in his Range Rover with girlfriend Erica Stoll beside him, a rainbow could be seen with the Mourne Mountains in the background.
It was that sort of week.
McIlroy was disappointed not to play over the weekend, but he was also proud of the fabulous work he did off the course, helping his own Foundation, which hosted the tournament, and raising awareness and much finance for the Cancer Fund for Children at the nearby Daisy Lodge.
With the weather taking a turn for the worse during the presentation to Kjeldsen, McIlroy, unlike a few others, was clever enough to keep his speech short and sweet.
"I wish I was here giving a winners speech but that wasn't to be this week," he said after receiving that welcoming roar from the thousands delighted to see him in the flesh, having watched him on television recently winning tournaments around the globe.
He continued: "Thank you to everyone who has been involved this week, Dubai Duty Free, the Royal County Down course, the European Tour, the spectators and the volunteers.
"You don't know how much it means to have your support.
"The money that we have raised for the Cancer Fund has been incredible and I'd like to say thank you very much to everyone who was involved in that.
"I'd also like to say congratulations to Soren. He has really battled hard over the last four days, certainly much better than I did, and he is a worthy champion."
Moments earlier addressing the media, McIlroy admitted that the 2015 Irish Open had exceeded all his expectations.
"From a tournament and Foundation perspective it did exceed my expectations," he said.
"For the whole week there was a total of 107,000 people here in spite of the weather not being as we would have liked so it has been incredible.
"The support that this tournament has had from the fans, volunteers, Royal County Down and sponsors has been amazing and we also had an exciting finish."
Chief executive of the Rory Foundation, Barry Funston, added: "We have managed to raise the profile and show the work of the Foundation to the general public.
"It has been terrific. This week we have managed to reach out to a lot of the friends of the Foundation and we are in good shape for the future."
While continuing to help the Daisy Lodge project in the weeks, months and years ahead, the Rory Foundation will also focus on Mencap NI and their endeavours in building a day nursery.