‘If home crowds can’t help you, nothing can’, says golf star Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy plays his tee shot at the 4th during a practice round ahead of the start of the British Open golf championships at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. (AP)
Updated 17 July 2019

‘If home crowds can’t help you, nothing can’, says golf star Rory McIlroy

  • The world number three is the bookmakers’ favorite to lift the Claret Jug for the second time on Sunday
  • British Open returns to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951

PORTRUSH, United Kingdom: Rory McIlroy said on Wednesday that he is not feeling extra pressure this week as the British Open returns to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951, and is hoping home fans can help him end a five-year major drought.
The world number three is the bookmakers’ favorite to lift the Claret Jug for the second time on Sunday, despite not having claimed a major title since the 2014 PGA Championship.
He said in the past he struggled being the focus of attention at Irish Opens, although he did win that tournament in 2016.
“I think it’s probably easier this week because it’s such a big tournament,” said McIlroy, who opens his title tilt at Royal Portrush at 0909 GMT on Thursday alongside US Open winner Gary Woodland and England’s Paul Casey.
“You’ve got the best players in the world here, and I don’t feel like I’m the center of attention.
“I’m here to enjoy myself. Hopefully it doesn’t take another 68 years for the tournament to come back here. But at the same time, I mightn’t get an opportunity to play an Open Championship here again.
“I’m really just treating it as a wonderful experience and one that I really want to enjoy.
“I’m going to love being out there and having the crowds and having the support. If that can’t help you, then nothing can.”
McIlroy fired a course-record 61 on the Dunluce Links at the age of just 16 in 2005, and is one of three Northern Irish major champions in the field along with Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke.
He said his first memories of Portrush came as a child when watching his father play.
“I remember chipping around the chipping green, being seven or eight years of age, my dad out playing on the Dunluce,” added McIlroy, who played a practice round on Tuesday.
“Portrush ... At least the golf club, has been a big part of my upbringing. It’s sort of surreal that it’s here.
“Even driving in yesterday, when you’re coming in on the road and you look to the right and you’ve got the second tee... I don’t know who was teeing off, maybe (American player) Tony Finau and someone else, (it was) sort of strange to see them here.
“But it’s really cool.”
Since McIlroy’s record the course has been renovated, with the seventh and eighth new holes.
But the 30-year-old said he did not have to spend too much time preparing on the course, such is his familiarity with it.
“I had dinner booked with a parent on Saturday night at 8:00, thinking I’m going to have to spend some time around the greens and just prepare.
“And I got on the road back home and rang them and said, ‘Can we move dinner up?’ Because I finished early. There’s no difference. It’s the same golf course.”
McIlroy has been in strong form this year, winning twice, including the Players’ Championship, and posting 11 top-10 finishes.
He also finished in a tie for second at the Open at Carnoustie last year.
“I think it’s probably the most consistent period of golf I’ve ever played,” the 2014 champion said.


Boult, Southee rattle Sri Lanka in second Test

Updated 23 August 2019

Boult, Southee rattle Sri Lanka in second Test

  • Weather permitting, extended playing time is planned for the day after only 36.3 overs were possible on Thursday due to rain in the Sri Lankan capital

COLOMBO: Trent Boult and Tim Southee led New Zealand’s charge against Sri Lanka on day two of the rain-hit second Test on Friday, with the host skipper Dimuth Karunaratne’s offering resistance with a half-century.
Boult took two early wickets in one over after Sri Lanka resumed the day on 85 for two at Colombo’s P. Sara Oval, where the start was delayed due to a wet outfield.
Sri Lanka were 144 for six at lunch with Dhananjaya de Silva, on 32, and Dilruwan Perera, on five, at the crease.
Southee, like Boult, also delivered a double-wicket maiden as the duo put on a superb display of seam bowling under overcast conditions.
Boult got overnight batsman Angelo Mathews caught behind for two to reach a landmark of 250 Test wickets — only the third Kiwi bowler to achieve the feat.
He trapped Kusal Perera lbw for nought after just three balls as Sri Lanka slipped to 93-4 and would have been in further trouble had Boult held on to a simple catch from de Silva off his own bowling a few overs later.
Karunaratne also got a lifeline on 61 when Kane Williamson could not grab a tough chance at short mid-wicket off Ajaz Patel.
But the left-hander, who completed his 23rd Test fifty after resuming the day on 49, soon fell, caught behind off Southee for 65.
Southee struck again in the same over to send Niroshan Dickwella trudging back to the pavilion for nought.
Perera then played out the rest of the session with de Silva.
Medium-pace bowler Colin de Grandhomme and spinner William Somerville took a wicket each on the opening day after Sri Lanka elected to bat first.
Weather permitting, extended playing time is planned for the day after only 36.3 overs were possible on Thursday due to rain in the Sri Lankan capital.