Rory fever will hit Kildare this week as the Holywood superstar returns to the Irish Open.
The world number two missed last year’s Irish Open at Mount Juliet so it is the first time most home fans will get to see him up close and personal for a couple of years.
This year’s Irish Open is back at the K Club in County Kildare, the venue where McIlroy won for the first time on home soil as a professional in 2016.
McIlroy’s stunning shot on the Par 5 16th is marked with a plaque on the famous Palmer Course and it has been freshly polished for this week.
McIlroy tweeted a picture of it today as the memories came flooding back during a practice round.
The 34-year-old had already won his four majors by the time he was crowned Irish Open Champion seven years ago.
One of his fellow countrymen and PGA Tour colleagues is backing him to win more.
“The crazy thing is he finishes third or fourth in The Open and people are disappointed, that’s how good he is,” Seamus Power told UTV.
“The majors are so hard and Rory is consistently finishing top 10 or top five, that is incredible difficult.
“He’s an institution and I have no doubt he’ll win major number five. I’m sure he’s fed up listening to talk of him having to wait another year.”
Power had to withdraw from this week’s tournament due to a hip injury.
Earlier in the year there was talk of him possibly being an outsider for a Ryder Cup pick for team Europe but a disappointing season and injury ending those hopes this time.
Shane Lowry did however get one of Luke Donald’s six picks for Team Europe for the Ryder in Rome later this month.
It will be Lowry’s second Ryder Cup after his Whistling Straits debut two years ago.
Lowry won the Irish Open as an amateur in 2009 and would love to delight the home fans once again.
The Offaly man tees off with Min Woo Lee and Ryan Fox at 7:50am on Thursday. McIlroy is the next group out at 8am with Adrian Meronk and Billy Horschel.
Recent DP World Tour winner Tom McKibbin tees off alongside Irish star Padraig Harrington and Tom Hoge at 12:50pm and Clandeboye Golf Club’s Jonathan Caldwell is out at 8:50am.
European Ryder Cup Captain Luke Donald is in a star studded group alongside Adam Scott and Tyrell Hatton, they tee off at 1pm.
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