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Irish Open comment: Why it's a case of 'fair play Rory McIlroy' and how Ballyliffin showed its teeth

Ballyliffin's Glashedy Links has held its own on day one of the Irish Open.
Ballyliffin's Glashedy Links has held its own on day one of the Irish Open.

By Gareth Hanna

Golf would drive you absolutely bonkers - ask Rory McIlroy.

The former world number one lit up Ballyliffin with a display of superlative golf from tee to green before letting the Glashedy Links off his hook with a frustratingly slack putter.

Any golfer knows the feeling of a ten foot putt slipping agonisingly past the lip of a hole - try watching on as SEVEN (by our calculations) evade the hole from should-make range (what we're estimating were within 10 feet) on day one of the Irish Open.

There are two 'fair plays' I consequently want to offer to Rory.

GOLF Iris (26).jpg
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy had a dismal day on the greens at Ballyliffin.

The first is a fair play for keeping his head and plugging on to secure a very credible score when more fragile souls would understandably have gone to pieces.

As the putts continued to come and be missed, you or I would likely have given the putter a booting, muttered a ---- this and hotfooted it straight to the clubhouse.

But bar the odd blip, Rory kept his rhythm, kept hitting superb golf shots and kept giving himself chances.

That's strength of character.

The second fair play is for saying afterwards that "the positives outweight the negatives" of that round of golf. He's right. And fair play for being able to see it so soon after that miss on 18 - which, never coming close to the hole, was one of the worst of all.

That, too, shows strength of character.

What of the others? Padraig Harrington showed some promising form that everyone at Ballyliffin hopes he can maintain, Graeme McDowell worked to salvage a red number and the course held its own.

After G Mac's prediction that -20 would be needed to win the tournament, he would be forced to admit that he may have underestimated the Glashedy Links. Only 43 players of the 156 person field broke par and for a links course in basically flat calm conditions, that's a sterling performance.

It's beautiful, it's tough, and it belongs on the world stage.

Roll on tomorrow.

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