Rory McIlroy cherishes 2016 Irish Open memory after winning silverware in front of his mum

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy at a press conference prior to the Horizon Irish Open at The K Club on Wednesday (Photo: Oisin Keniry)
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy at a press conference prior to the Horizon Irish Open at The K Club on Wednesday (Photo: Oisin Keniry)

​McIlroy produced a sensational finish to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat the last time the tournament was held at the famous Co Kildare venue seven years ago, having seen a three-shot lead turn into a one-shot deficit in the final round.

A stunning approach from 270 yards set up a two-putt birdie on the par-five 16th and McIlroy produced an even better shot to the last, his five-wood from 252 yards finishing within three feet of the hole for a tap-in eagle.

“The two shots I hit on 16 then the two on 18, that’s the way you want to try to close out a golf tournament. It was amazing,” McIlroy recalled.

“They had set up a sort of bar on the right side of 16 and when my ball hit the green I just remember the roar from over there was pretty cool.

“It was a great finish and for as long as I can remember the only tournament my mum ever wanted to see me win was The Irish Open. So for her to be there and for me to win it, it means a lot to her obviously and a lot to us as a family.”

McIlroy has a lead of more than 2,000 points over Jon Rahm at the top of the Race to Dubai, but will take six weeks off between the Ryder Cup and the season-finale in Dubai.

Strong performances in Ireland and next week’s BMW PGA Championship would therefore go a long way to securing a fifth money list title, three behind the record of Colin Montgomerie.

“I’ve got a nice little cushion at the minute but these two weeks are important,” McIlroy said.

“I want to play well for a number of reasons. I want to feel like I’m confident and in good form going into the Ryder Cup obviously.

“But yeah, I think it would be a pretty cool achievement to win The Race to Dubai for a fifth time and start creeping up on Monty.”

Meanwhile, reigning Irish Open champion Adrian Meronk has admitted he was “shocked, sad and angry” not to receive a Ryder Cup wild card from Europe captain Luke Donald.

Meronk won his third DP World Tour title in the space of 10 months in May’s Italian Open, which was staged at the Ryder Cup venue on the outskirts of Rome.

The 30-year-old Pole also finished fifth on the European Points list, 20 places above the selected Nicolai Hojgaard, while Shane Lowry’s selection has also been questioned due to a poor run of form.

Meronk finished 13th in last week’s final qualifying event in Switzerland and was expecting good news when he received the call from Donald while on a train to Geneva.

“It’s been an emotional time for me to be honest, from shock to sadness to anger and now I’m trying to turn it into motivation going into this week,” Meronk said.

“Obviously it’s a hard one to swallow, I thought I’d done enough to be on that team but it is what it is, I wish them good luck and I will just focus on my game and move forward.

“I was expecting a call because they told me they were going to call regardless and I was in quite a good mood to be honest.

"I was on the train coming from Switzerland, I’d had a nice finish and I was in shock.

“I heard from him (Donald) that it was tough for him as well but to be honest when he said I’m not going I kind of stopped listening."