It’s an understatement to say Rory McIlroy struggled in the first round of the Irish Open at Royal County Down in tough conditions (or pretty standard if we’re talking about the local weather). Between the added time and effort of playing host this week, with the proceeds from the tournament benefitting his charity (he also said he’d donate any winnings), and perhaps the pressure of competing in front of a home crowd in Northern Ireland, the world no. 1 opened with a nine-over 80.
Get excited for the Irish Open to kick off Thursday morning at Royal County Down Golf Club, a brilliant test of golf with a spectacular layout and scenery — no wonder it’s one of the world’s greatest courses. Not enough is said about the venue, which has that “it” factor and special atmosphere that only the best major championship sites possess. In other words, RCD, which is located about an hour from Belfast in Northern Ireland, feels like it could host an Open Championship and this event feels notably distinct.
Robert Rock graciously joined me on Periscope — you can watch it on the app for the full experience — on the range at Royal County Down, the venue for this week’s Irish Open, which is hosted by world no. 1 Rory McIlroy.
Ben An, a rookie on the European Tour, fired an impressive bogey-free, seven-under 65, the low score on Sunday, to capture the BMW PGA Championship by six shots over Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thongchai Jaidee. He carded a 21-under total for the championship, the lowest in relation to par in the history of the tournament, beating the previous best of 19-under by Anders Hansen in 2002 and Scott Drummond in 2004.
The body language says it all for Rory McIlroy, doesn’t it? The world no. 1 hung in there on the front nine at even par, but fatigue caught up with him on the back and he shot a six-over 78 to miss the cut at the BMW PGA Championship.
Despite expressing his slight disappointment that he wouldn’t be able to attempt to defend his title at Wentworth over the weekend, there’s a silver lining that comes with having the weekend off — which is exactly that.
For those of you without iPhones — and thus, can’t download the app — here’s the video of the quick chat I did on Periscope with Graeme McDowell after he shot a one-under 71 in the second round of the BMW PGA Championship. He’s one-over for the tournament, which currently puts him just outside the cutline at the moment.
It wasn’t even the first hole-in-one during the first round of the BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour’s flagship event — that honor went to Craig Lee, who aced the par-3 no. 2 at Wentworth’s West Course.
Timing is always everything, isn’t it? I was walking back to the media center from a nearly empty range when I saw Ernie Els, one of two players still practicing on the eve of the European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship. I almost kept going, but I figured golf fans would love to see The Big Easy hitting balls. In other words, it was a perfect moment to use Periscope — and it turned out to be even better than I thought.
Ernie, who was in charge of the redesign at Wentworth, the event’s venue, saw me watching him and pointing my phone at him, so he said hello and asked what I was doing (mostly, I think he was surprised to see me on this side of the pond because there isn’t much American media here). I started to explain Periscope to him and his interest piqued. I mean, he got really into it — he answered questions, demonstrated a swing tip, showed off his clubs and more.
You can watch the video above, but you should really download Periscope if you can and watch it on the app for the full effect because you can see all the comments and how Ernie was interacting with fans.