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Rory thanks "phenomenal" fans after Irish Open disappointment

Rory McIlroy on day two of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation at Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle.
Picture by Arthur Allison
Rory McIlroy paid tribute yesterday to the "phenomenal" support of fans at Royal County Down as he bowed out early of the Irish Open for the third year running.
 
The local hero was unable to undo the damage of a disastrous opening round as he missed the cut in windswept conditions.
 
The world number one's charity is hosting the event and he had even pledged to donate his prize money, but despite some better golf yesterday he left himself too much to do.
 
"I was trying as hard as I could but just couldn't get a good run of holes going," he said.
 
"The support out there was phenomenal and it's the third year in a row they are not going to see me playing on the weekend. I'm more disappointed for them."
 
All eyes this week had been on McIlroy, who had the use of a private suite on the top level of a purpose-built pavilion overlooking the 18th hole.
 
Located beside two other corporate areas, belonging to Emirates airlines and Dubai Duty Free, the main sponsor of the tournament, it featured white leather seating, glass tables and a bar serving drinks to the golfer's entourage.
 
Pictures in the room show the 26-year-old golfer as well as some of the young people he has helped through his foundation.
 
The highlight for visitors, however, is likely to be the computer games centre, located at the back of the large room, with a large screen television.

While McIlroy is now excluded from the final two rounds of the Irish Open, his duties as tournament host prevent him moving on - something he refused to blame for his performance.

"It's not as difficult as you might think. I'm definitely not using that as an excuse," he said.

"If anything it has fallen at a bad time as my fifth tournament in a row. In an ideal world I would have come in here with a bit different preparation."

The Irish challenge, meanwhile, continues to be led by Padraig Harrington, who was last night lying one shot off the lead.

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