Rory McIlroy hopes his stunning second round of 65 can be a springboard for success in the remainder of the year, even though it was not quite enough to avoid missing the cut at The Open.
After a disastrous 79 on the opening day, the Northern Irishman thrilled his home crowd at Royal Portrush with a fabulous fightback that saw him come up agonisingly short of qualifying for the weekend.
McIlroy carded seven birdies – five of them after the turn – but was unable to find another at either the 17th or 18th, leaving him at two over and narrowly on the wrong side of the cut line.
The four-time major winner became emotional during his post-round interview with Sky Sports but, when speaking in the mixed zone later, was keen to look to the future and the rest of his 2019 season.
“One of the great things about golf is there’s always next week,” McIlroy told the media. “I’ve got a pretty big tournament in Memphis to go to and I’m leaving here with a pretty solid golf game.
“Obviously what happened yesterday was a bit of an anomaly, and there’s a few big numbers thrown in there. But I felt today I showed the real Rory McIlroy and the golf that I can play.
“Even though the major season is over for me, there’s still a lot to play for for me this year.
“The rest of the PGA Tour schedule to go, and I’m probably going to have a pretty busy fall season. I’ve still got to play probably between eight and ten tournaments before the end of the year.
“The major season is over but the season and trying to finish the year off on a positive note isn’t.”
McIlroy had started his tournament with a quadruple bogey at the first but it was a poor finish to his opening round that stung the most, having dropped five shots over the closing three holes.
“Today was probably one of the most fun rounds of golf I’ve ever played,” the 30-year-old said.
“It’s strange saying that standing here and having had a bit of success and won this championship before, and just to be battling to make the cut.
“To play in front of those crowds today and to feel that momentum and really dig in, it’s going to be a tough one to get over. I’ll probably rue the finish yesterday, dropping five shots on the last three holes.
“But I felt like I gave a good account of myself today and I can leave here with my head held high.”