‘Overwhelmed’ McIlroy says he had to stop himself from crying several times during Friday’s British Open run
Rory McIlroy said he was so overwhelmed by the support he received from his home fans during last week’s Open Championship that he had to stop himself from crying about four times during his back nine on Friday.
McIlroy, speaking to reporters on Wednesday ahead of this week’s WGC-FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tenn., said he’d never experienced emotions like that on a golf course.
“I think it was more where I stood in terms of, like to the people of my home country,” said McIlroy, who fought back tears in post-round interviews. “That’s what was overwhelming for me. I didn’t cry because I missed the cut, I was overwhelmed by the support I got. I guess at the end of the day I didn’t think I meant as much to them, and I realized they mean more to me than I thought they did. So I think it went both ways.”
McIlroy, a Northern Irishman and one of the heavy favorites to win last week’s Open at Royal Portrush, made an 8 on the first hole on Thursday and shot 79 in the first round. All but out of it after one round, McIlroy rebounded and shot a six-under 65 on Friday, but ultimately missed the cut by one. He shot a four-under 31 on the back nine as the crowd rallied around him, erupting with every birdie that pushed him closer and closer to a weekend tee time. He parred the 18th hole when a birdie would have been good enough to make the cut.
“It sounded like Sunday in terms of trying to win the golf tournament, so I just sort of had to take a step back and be like, Wow, I sorta mean a lot to these people,” McIlroy said. “And that felt really good. Selfishly, I said this afterward, that I would have loved to play in that atmosphere for two more days. It’s such a weird thing to say to think of a missed cut as being one of the best experiences you’ve ever had on a golf course.”
McIlroy said Irishman Shane Lowry texted him some words of encouragement after McIlroy missed the cut on Friday. After Lowry said “see you in Memphis,” McIlroy responded with, “Well I hope I don’t see you in Memphis because hopefully you are still drinking out of the Claret Jug.”
Turns out McIlroy wasn’t too far off. Lowry withdrew (without giving a reason) from the tournament on Tuesday.
“He’s gonna be a national hero for the rest of his life,” McIlroy said.