McIlroy has gone from 3/1 favourite to 100/1 to win this week. Presseye/Matt Makey/INPHO
Below par

'I want to give them something to cheer and not just get the sympathy claps I got today'

It was a bad day at the office for Rory McIlroy.

FOR RORY MCILROY, this wasn’t how it was meant to be as a nightmare opening round at the Irish Open has put the world number one in danger of missing the weekend for the third successive year.

McIlroy now faces an uphill battle to repair the damage of Thursday’s uncharacteristic nine-over-par round of 80 at Royal County Down.

The 26-year-old, who is this year hosting the event and helped restore the tournament to its former glories, finds himself bottom of the leaderboard.

McIlroy’s struggles off the tee saw him drop five shots on the front nine before his usually sweet iron play also unraveled in cold and windy conditions in Newcastle.

But the Northern Irishman is determined to repay the large galleries on Friday and insisted conditions weren’t as difficult as his score would suggest.

“It’s disappointing because I want to go out there and play well, not just for myself but for a lot of other people,” McIlroy said afterwards.

“I’ll just have to pick myself up and go out there tomorrow and shoot a good one. My goal will be to make some birdies, make my first birdie of the tournament at some point.

Rory McIlroy Despite his round, McIlroy remained in positive mood Presseye / Matt Makey/INPHO Presseye / Matt Makey/INPHO / Matt Makey/INPHO

“My poor iron play led to missed greens, which led to giving myself a lot of sort of 8 to 12‑footers for pars and that led to missing all of them. So it was pretty good off the tee and it just got worse as I got closer to the green.”

Despite the inclement weather, there was a large following for McIlroy, who played alongside Rickie Fowler and Martin Kaymer, throughout.

“I want to give them something to cheer about and not just get sympathy claps as I got coming off the ninth green,” McIlroy added.

Should he miss the cut, it will be the fourth time McIlroy has done so in eight appearances at Ireland’s showpiece event. His best finish at the Irish Open was in 2008 when he finished 8th at Adare Manor.

‘I want to show my kids that Dad still is a great player as opposed to used to be’

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