Rory McIlroy: “It’s definitely big improvement”

Rory McIlroy carded an impressive 67 on day two of the 2021 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open but knows he will have to go even lower to get into contention for a second European Tour win in Ireland.

Rory McIlroy, statements

“There’s a lot of people between me and the lead so I need to go out there tomorrow and shoot something probably a little better than I did today to give myself a real chance on Sunday. I need to at least get into double digits under par by the end of tomorrow to give myself a chance and there’s a bit of weather coming in as well and we’ll see how that goes. I don’t think I’m right back in contention but I’m pretty close. I did some practice last night and figured a couple of things out and to play the first nine holes in four under was nice and being five under through ten, I thought I was on course for something a bit lower than five under in the end.  But I’ll take it. It was definitely a big improvement on yesterday. To play the par fives on the front nine at even par was disappointing. I thought had I got to seven it would have been a good effort and that’s sort of what my goal was over those last few holes. Didn’t quite happen but, as I said, it was a much better effort than it was yesterday. I feel like it’s the momentum when it’s going with you on a week like this, it’s great. But whenever you’re sort of struggling, it feels almost like more of an uphill battle. It was nice out there today. I made a few birdies and the crowd got behind me and it was nice to feel that”.

Rory McIlroy talks after arrival in County Kilkenny yesterday.

“The last time I was on the 18th green here was that prize-giving ceremony. Tiger Woods won and I somehow sneaked my way under the ropes on to the back of the green. I was standing right behind him and his glove was still in his back pocket. I could have reached out and got it and ran, that would have been a good story to tell. Obviously I didn’t. It was the first time I’d seen him play live. I still remember the first shot I saw him hit, the drive at the 5th, a par five. He hit 2-iron into the green. It was so cool. I’d idolised him growing up and to actually see the man in the flesh was pretty exciting.”

“I’d made a bit of a name for myself as an amateur by then and knew Chubby (Chandler) and Darren (Clarke) so I was in the clubhouse and got to chat to Ernie when he won. It’s amazing to think it’s been 17 year. Certainly a lot’s changed for me since the last time I was here. I might as well play the Scottish as well. My original plan up until last week was us to come as a family, play here, take a week off, which is now the Scottish Open, and play the Open. With me being a sports person the restrictions are not as heavy for me as they would be for Erica and Poppy. I felt it wasn’t fair to put them through what they’d have to go through to be here with me. The plans changed very quickly and we made the decision I travel on my own. I wasn’t going to go back to the States for a week inbetween the Irish and the Open, so if I’m here I might as well play the Scottish as well. It went very quickly from them coming, to not coming and then me playing three events in a row! If anything, it’s probably worked out for the best. It’ll be nice to get a tournament on a links course before going into Sandwich. I didn’t play for a week because I was spending time with the family before being away. So I can now get to work here and in Scotland”.