Bless the heart of Rory McIlroy who stood on the first jersey at Royal Portrush in 2019, breathing the wind from the right flank. His heart was blessed because Northern Ireland’s greatest golf talent, then 30, said he wasn’t trying to be the center of attention that week, as the Open Championship returned to his homeland.
May God bless the heart of a four-time major champion who admitted he is nervous, playing in his 11th Open Championship, but is the first player to be held there in more than 60 years. God bless the heart of my favorite fan who was his name There next to the course record: 61. This scene was the kind that we, the golfers who play it and the thirsty fans who watch it, dream about.
McIlroy stood on a tee in the middle of a waterfall created by the runway. He didn’t feel the wind like the spectators felt the ropes. But as soon as he hit his drive iron, that right-to-left wind upgraded the patented drag into a hook. He started to invite her to sit down.
Six different calls to “sit,” maybe seven, before McIlroy’s ball finally sits on the tall stuff… Out of bounds. And now, except for the bets, the home crowd, the back shirts and maybe those right-to-left winds, I know exactly how it feels.
Like any good guys trip, my visit to Portrush Last month loomed in the back of my head for weeks prior. I didn’t cover the 2019 Open, so I never had a chance to visit Harbor Bar, never got to see how close Royal Portrush was to downtown, and never felt the heartbeat of golf. All I know about Portrush is that 1. It is about the same latitude as the southern part of Alaska, and 2. This Where Rory McIlroy was brought to tears. Since I’ve only seen this happen on TV, I really wanted to see what that first shirt would look like. I needed to understand McIlroy’s point of view, imagine the crowd he met there and get myself into the mental torture chamber that is left OB And the OB is correct.
(Quick glimpse: Portrush, I can assure you, is so much more than that. It’s a mile-long peninsular beach town filled with B&Bs, boutique shops, arcades, and cafés. Read more about it as a destination here and check out our entire trip in the video below. .)
I’m not usually affected by special sessions or particular shots. I’m not saying I’ll necessarily hit the green, but the thought of playing 17 in Sawgrass doesn’t make my hands sweat. nor the eighteenth in the pebble. Whatever happens happens. Put my best swing on it, then chase it. But for some reason, the first one in Portrush freaked me out. It could be the first time a tee has been shot in a 54-hole, 54-hour golf race from Northern Ireland to England to Scotland. Canisters and Portrush members can often be just hanging out and watching, since the green is close by and you have to cross the tee to visit the training range. Off-line fencing (and bunkers) can provide a clear path forward, and executing the clear path is sometimes one of the hardest things to do. But mostly I couldn’t get over the fact that it represented one of the biggest failures in the career of one of the best golfers of all time. In my opinion, the hole was indicative of a problem. It represents anguish. It was a sentimental T-shirt box.
“Don’t ask Rory about it,” Jerry McAleese told me upon my arrival at Portrush. McAleese is a multi-time Royal Portrush club champion and exactly the kind of person you want to meet when visiting from the States. He is a speaker, storyteller, and a very good golfer. He shot 66 at Portrush, a number he only admitted when pressed. He’s much more interested in the stories of everyone else who plays Portrush – McIlroy included.
“I’m going to tell you an interesting story about this club, okay?” He said, a smile creeping across his face. “I was driving there about six months ago, and a friend of mine said, ‘Want to try this club? “
I say, ‘Not really. ”
He said: You should Try it.’
‘I said why?’
“It’s a really popular club,” he says.
“Harry Diamond, out of cans for Rory, right? Father-in-law has Rory’s iron in the bag. The club has never had a successful first hole.” [with]. So we have a member who has Rory’s Iron 2 in the bag. [laughs] He asked me if I wanted to hit him and I said no.”
Jerry finds this sinister part of golf history amusing, but I can’t blame him for not wanting to hit this charming thing. And I can’t blame Rory. McIlroy apparently ditched the club shortly after competing that week; Now floating around the club like a ghost. People kind of know it’s there but aren’t too keen on touching it.
This is the apt excuse I will use to explain my fate in Portrush in mid-August. That iron ghost driving McIlroy found a friend in my driving iron. I watched my colleague Dylan Diether’s tape for him They drive irons into the fairway, as McAleese, the Beginners and some Portrush cans watch. “Rory McIlroy is going to give you a million dollars for that knockout,” she told Dylan. “Maybe more than a million.”
(It’s a fun intellectual exercise: how much money would McIlroy make for the ball in that first lane. We saw what he was able to do when he hit 65 in the afternoon. 2013 at Augusta? Jordan Spieth’s number for an amen corner errand in 2016? Astronomical .and he will be able to afford it.)
If it wasn’t clear now, I’d obviously play this shot with Rory thinking, and if I was a better golfer, you’d think I attempt To do exactly what he did. Because I did exactly what he did: a swing not turning right gave a shot that started with a left touch, turned left and jumped over the OB pegs.
“That was a nice re-creation, wasn’t it?!” Dylan said gleefully, loud enough for everyone who wasn’t watching to know exactly what had happened. “It was unbelievable,” McCallese agreed.
McIlroy grabbed his second shot as well, that day and no, I hadn’t yet made a full impression. I pulled my timer to the coarse and while I stayed at the border, my next swing—like him—was eyelashes through the fescue. Honestly, it would be a mistake to stop thinking about McIlroy at this moment. Pictures of him crouching down to spread the grass and verify that yes, this was his ball – those pictures are living in disrepair in that part of the world. The helplessness as he looked at his can is an image stuck deep inside all of us golfers. I had the opportunity to feel a seed of shame in front of anyone. What would Rory feel in front of thousands of people begging him to do the exact opposite of what he did? One day the truth will be buried in his diary. Bless his heart–my seven strikes have struck the eight.
Below is the first installment in a three-part series called Golf Destination: Linksland, courtesy of FootJoy. If you’d like to see my tragic recreation from McIlroy’s Portrush tee, check out this video below. Or if you’d like to learn more about what makes Portrush a must-visit destination, spend some time with us there. Next week we head to Royal Liverpool, where Roars has found the setup more suitable for his game.