Rory McIlroy misses Open cut at Royal Portrush despite thrilling round
An emotional Rory McIlroy said missing the cut at his home Open hurt but the "love" from the crowd spurred him on to a remarkable round at Royal Portrush.
After an eight-over-par opening round, McIlroy faced a huge task to make the weekend for what is Northern Ireland's first staging of The Open in 68 years.
The Northern Irishman, 30, carded seven birdies in a second-round 65 but missed the cut line by one shot.
"I wish I could have been a part of it for two more days," he told the BBC.
"But I'll look back at this week with nothing but fondness and positivity and I can't wait to come back here and play in another Open Championship.
"I am so proud of Portrush, this country, Northern Ireland, the R&A for bringing it back here, and everyone involved. It means the world to me."
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World number three McIlroy shot a course-record 61 on the Dunluce Links when he was 16 years old but a 64 would have done it for the four-time major winner on Friday.
He made two birdies on the front nine and, after clawing three strokes back in as many holes after the turn, the support for the home favourite grew louder and the atmosphere more intense with every shot.
A bogey at 13 threatened to derail McIlroy, but he hit straight back with another birdie and that seemed to hype up his fans even more.
McIlroy pulled another back at the imposing 16th, known as Calamity Corner, and made his way to the 17th tee 'high-fiving' children in the knowledge that one more birdie in the final two holes would do it.
"It was one of the most fun runs of golf I have ever played," he said.
"Today I really felt the love from the crowd, so many of them out there willing me on and wanting me to be there for the weekend."
A birdie eluded McIlroy at 17, but a drive to the middle of the fairway on the final hole had fans sprinting and jostling their way along the ropes to try and find a good view of the 18th green.
McIlroy's approach drifted left, but the noise cranked up once more and the ferocious roars echoing around the grandstand made it feel like this was the final group on Sunday playing for the Claret Jug rather than a man chasing the cut.
The 2014 Open champion had left himself too much work. He made it up and down from the fringes in two strokes for par, but that was one too many.
BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter:
Rory McIlroy shot a second-round 65 and missed the cut. Just think about that.
It just shows us what a class act he is. But the point still remains that yesterday was an absolute golfing disaster.
We said all along this would be a very special Open for all sorts of reasons. This was one of those moments which tells you why. I'd never seen such scenes for a player trying to make the cut on a Friday evening.