Rory McIlroy: I hope Australia beat England in Ashes
Rory McIlroy has stoked controversy Down Under by admitting he will be cheering on the Australians for the remainder of the Ashes series.
The Ulsterman, who has endured a difficult year on and off the golf course, backed the hosts to continue their good form after winning the First Test.
Asked who he wants to win, McIlroy - who is currently in Sydney for the Australian Open - replied: "Anyone but England, isn't it?"
He added: "The Aussies had a convincing victory up there in Brisbane so hopefully more of the same. I must say I do like when the Ashes is on. I remember years ago getting up at midnight to watch the first ball bowled in the Boxing Day Test."
His remarks will prompt memories of Andy Murray's infamous "anyone but England" jibe ahead of the 2006 football World Cup.
McIlroy, meanwhile, has admitted he can't wait for the worst year of his career to end.
The Holywood native is without a victory in over 12 months, and has slipped from first to sixth in the world rankings.
"It's been a long year, I guess mentally more than physically," said McIlroy.
"Physically, golf doesn't take that much out of you but mentally it's quite draining, especially this year for me.
"It's not just the golf and being frustrated with my game, but having to answer the questions and having to come up with reasons why I'm not playing well and all that stuff."
The two-time Major winner expressed sympathy with England batsman Jonathan Trott.