There’s every chance he could be handing it over to one of the two men he played with for the first two rounds – Jon Rahm and Hideki Matsuyama. Kirk eagled the par-5 13th and hit a hybrid to 4 feet on the 196-yard, par-3 17th for her final birdie of the day. I think if I can play well and get myself into contention, it’s a great thing for me, but it’s also a great thing for everyone else; someone that’s local, a top player, creates interest and it’s great for the tournament. “I’m not being very efficient with the way I’m scoring so that is making things hard for me”. The last two times the Irish Open has been in Northern Ireland, not playing at the weekend, it’s obviously not where I want to be.
“And yeah, it’s been tough, but I felt like I was playing well coming in here”.
At the pro-Am event on Wednesday, former Ryder Cup captain and current pro golfer Paul McGinley praised McLoughlin and the impact of Dubai Duty Free in helping to revive the Irish Open.
McIlroy is the 6/1 favourite with BetVictor, and heads the market alongside Japan’s Hideko Matsyuyma, Spanish sensation John Rahm and Masters runner-up Justin Rose.
The 28-year-old said he wouldn’t have reacted the same had it been a member of the media.
Speaking at the site of this week’s Irish Open, McIlroy said that he wouldn’t have reacted on Twitter the way he did to criticism from just anyone, but he was particularly irked to hear it coming from someone such as Elkington.
First-round leader Xinjun Zhang of China is now tied for first with American Adam Long at minus-11 – eight shots better than Griffin and Kohles.
“It’s not what was said, it was who said it”, said McIlroy.
“I just want to keep playing like how I’m doing right now, and enjoy this lovely Portstewart Golf Course, and then see what happens at the end”.
‘I’ve just got to get my short game sharper and stay patient.
“It became, “Actually Matt Southgate is good enough to compete”, which is a huge monkey to get off your back”.
He made birdie on three of his last six holes in a pleasing opening round which left him in the clubhouse at four under, just four shots off the morning leaders. This is just a disappointment for me. “The top players are more consistent than those lower down the ladder”. Stephen Gallacher also shot 69 and is a stroke further back.
Donaldson’s 66 remarkably included a five-putt double-bogey on the 13th, his fourth hole of the day.
I’m really looking to the next three weeks in Europe, with two superb tournaments being staged ahead of The Open Championship at Birkdale. “It’s a few putts dropping here or there, it’s a few up-and-downs that I haven’t been able to get the last couple of days”. It’s amusing, I don’t look at it as much now as I would if I was number one.