Emotional McIlroy praises 'incredible' support after Open near-miss
Rory McIlroy was moved to the brink of tears by the support from the Royal Portrush crowd as he fell agonisingly short in his heroic bid to make the cut at The Open.
The home favourite appeared dead and buried after his opening-round 79, which included a quadruple-bogey eight at the first hole.
But on Friday he electrified the Dunluce Links with a stunning 65 that took him to within a whisker of making the weekend on home soil.
However, a poor approach at 18 left him with a near-impossible chip from off the green that he could only put within five feet, leaving him one stroke short of an incredible revival.
"Part of me is very disappointed not to be here for the weekend," the four-time major winner told Sky Sports.
"Disappointed and emotional but happy with how I played.
"The support I got out there was incredible. You could see out there on the back nine if I'd got that momentum a little bit yesterday, I went with it today and that's what I was planning to do all week.
"Yesterday gave me a big mountain to climb but I dug in there, I tried my best, I showed really good resilience.
"It's going to hurt for a little bit but the good thing about golf is I've got a tournament to play in Memphis next week so I'm going to turn my attention to that.
"But this is a week I've been looking forward to for a long time."
McIlroy will now assume a watching brief as the remainder of the field battle it out for the Claret Jug he won in 2014.
And the 30-year-old is looking forward to watching co-leader Shane Lowry go for glory, with the Irishman on eight under alongside J.B. Holmes, leading a chasing pack that features the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose and Brooks Koepka.
"I can't wait to watch him [Lowry] over the weekend," said McIlroy. "I was following the board closely and I saw he got to 10 under with a few holes to go and dropped back.
"Shane will relish these conditions and he's the home boy that's up there now so he's going to get all of this support that I got.
"Hopefully they can pull him on and I'd love nothing more than to see Shane get his name on that Claret Jug."