Belfast Telegraph

Irish Open: Alas, the stars never quite aligned for Rory McIlroy, but he lives to fight another day

By Deborah McAleese

He is just a young guy from Holywood and everyone wants a piece of him.

As one of the world's favourite sportsmen, Rory McIlroy has the world at his feet, at the age of just 26. But the pressure that brings must be immense.

It is not only his life on the golf course that is scrutinised. Everything from his new car to his love life seems to be public property.

And yet the golfing superstar has always appeared to take it in his stride. While expectations were high for a McIlroy triumph this week, it is not a huge surprise that he crashed and burned. This wasn't a simple case of turning up and playing a game of golf.

This was Rory's homecoming game, it was his tournament and it was his charity that he wanted a win for. So much time and effort was invested by the golfer to ensure the success of this tournament at Royal County Down.

He would have known that the 80,000 golfing fans attending the Open were desperate to see some McIlroy magic. That is bound to affect your nerves. And then there was the pressure he put himself under to win for his charity The Rory Foundation. If he had won, he was going to donate his £294,000 prize money.

"I am not really playing for myself this week," he said before the tournament began on Wednesday.

"What I want to get out of it this year is just to raise a lot of money for the foundation, for the cancer fund and ultimately if I play well and if I do well in the tournament then all the money that I earn is going to go towards that as well." He added: "I am playing for a lot of other people and it gives me an incentive to go out there and enjoy it and try to play well."

As it began to look less and less likely yesterday that the crowd favourite was going to make the cut, a tearful woman from north Dublin said: "I really feel for him. He is under so much strain. Everyone wants a piece of him.

"He is only a young lad. I'm devastated for him that he isn't going to make the cut.

"But even if that happens, he should still hold his head up high for what he has done here this week and for charity."

"He's still a hero," the woman added.

Everyone may have wanted a happy ending for Rory, but all heroes have a setback.

It is how they come back from it that matters.

Belfast Telegraph


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