Northern Ireland

The Open 2019 diary: Bod advises Rory to 'shake it off'

Brian O'Driscoll
Image caption Ireland and Lions hero Brian O'Driscoll said he believes Rory McIlroy will recover

As Open fever consumes Northern Ireland, BBC News NI brings you all the latest news and views from Royal Portrush.

In Bod we trust

If Rory McIlroy needs any advice on how to move on from a scarring Open experience, he could do worse than look to another of Ireland's greatest sporting sons for advice.

Ireland and Lions hero Brian O'Driscoll has been on the property all week and is loving every minute.

Reflecting on McIlroy's woes, he said: "I'm sure he'll be hugely disappointed. It will leave a bitter taste, but you just have to shake it off."

Asked if he has ever left the field of play feeling he really failed to deliver, the man known simply as Bod added: "There are times it happens, sure. You have to have the bravery to go back and re-evaluate and then it can help you for future situations.

"I'm sure he'll never do it again, it's just real shame he's done it here in his home patch. He's a big boy and he'll shrug it off."

The rugby great is now hoping another Irish golfer can bring home the Claret Jug, with Offaly man Shane Lowry best placed to do so going into the weekend.

"He's in great shape and fingers crossed he can stay close to the top."

As for Bod's Sunday plans? "Back home and soak it all up on the sofa."

Robo Rory swing 'a bit of a stretch'

You too could have a swing like Rory's, just not the one he made with his first shot on Thursday.

Visitors to the Golf Zone can be hooked up to a robot which perfectly recreates the swing of any professional.

Thankfully it does so at less than 129mph, otherwise most of those who gave it a go would be leaving in ambulances.

Killian Atkins, who only recently took up the game, got to feel just what it's like to swing like his hero.

Image caption Adrian Atkins and his son Killian practiced their swing on the Golf Zone robot

"It feels way smoother and you need a lot of flexibility," said the youngster from Mitchelstown, County Cork.

Dad Adrian has a very respectable handicap of seven and played Royal Portrush two years ago, taking four shots fewer at the first than Rory did on Thursday.

"I'm sure he'd have paid a lot for that, but it's a tough hole in fairness."

A different ball game

While for years it was a case of "in Bod we trust" for Irish rugby fans, Northern Ireland supporters share the same sentiment about manager Michael O'Neill.

Image caption Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill described playing Royal Portrush as 'a torturous experience'

While he stopped shy of handing out any sage advice, he told the Diary he was loving the competition days and was blown away by the crowds and the quality of the golf.

As for his own game? "I haven't played that much recently," he said.

"I played here a couple of years ago and let's just say it was a torturous experience."

We feel your pain Michael.

Rangers fan is Bhoyed by Scott

But why settle for two sporting heroes when there's a third to be had?

Celtic captain Scott Brown flew in to watch the best golfers in the world showcase their skills and made a few unlikely friends along the way.

Image caption Celtic captain Scott Brown and a Rangers fan

Ulster Unionist Party press officer Stephen Barr is a lifelong Rangers fan, but was happy to pose for a snap with Celtic legend Brown.

If ever there was proof of golf's unifying qualities, then surely this is it.

Chilling with the beanbag ladies

Watching golf can be an arduous task - all that walking over hill and dale just to catch a glimpse of your favourite player.

Thankfully, the Open makes the experience as easy as it can be and when the limbs simply can't take any more, you can always pull up a giant beanbag and settle down with a couple of friends and a drink to take it all in on the big screen.

For Robin Cunningham, Linn Smith and Kareen Mason, that was just the way to rest half way through a day that brought more rain but plenty of smiles.

The pals flew in on 10 July, along with their husbands, and decided to see a fair bit of Ireland while here.

Image caption Robin Cunningham, Linn Smith and Kareen Mason take time out to rest with a drink and a beanbag

Robin, from Wilmington, North Carolina, said: "We visited Killarney and Galway and now here. It's the first time we've been."

Former amateur champion Linn, from Greensboro in North Carolina, is the only serious golfer among the three, but a chastening round earlier in the week at Rosses Point in Sligo gave her a new perspective on the challenges of links golf.

"I played horrible," she said.

"I have a lot of sympathy for these guys after playing in this tall grass."

The third wheel of the tricycle, Kareen Mason, didn't come quite as far, having flown in from Daventry, Northamptonshire.

While love brought her to England, she remains a proud Scot and was full of kind words for her Celtic cousins.

"The welcome and the people have been fantastic," she said.

Robin echoed that sentiment: "Everyone has been incredibly nice."

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