PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND | By the time Rory McIlroy left Royal Portrush late Friday afternoon, his head and heart still spinning with conflicting emotions, there was a hint of blue sky at the end of a grey cloud bank over the Irish Sea.
A splash of sunshine on the horizon, a final subtle touch at the end of two days unlike any other in McIlroy’s marvelous career.
He left the Open two days too soon, undone by a soul-searing 79 on the first day when McIlroy began his long-awaited homeland Open by swatting his opening tee shot out of bounds, a profound disappointment on every level.
A day later, McIlroy set the modern course record of 65 at the redesigned course where he posted 61 as a 16-year old, fueling his legend. He came within a swing of making the cut, seemingly carried as much by the collective spirit of the thousands of Ulstermen and Irishmen as by his own proud golf.
It was, over the course of two days, heartbreaking and heartwarming, the standing ovation from fans horseshoed into great grandstands around the 18th...
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