Rory McIlroy got his first-ever taste of the Mount Juliet golf course on Tuesday.
The 2016 Irish Open winner put in a 9 hole practice round on Tuesday and will get the full 18 in at the PRO Am.
He says he’s only ever watched golf at the course before and was delighted to finally play the course:
“It’s looking fabulous. Wonderful weather. Great golf course. It’s great. I’ve never played here before. I’ve been here to watch when the World Golf Championships were here in 2002 and 2004; we came down to watch, but a little different playing it. And, yeah, obviously vantage point is a little different, as well” said Rory.
He also spoke of his memories of those tournaments in Mount Juliet in 2002 and 2004.
Many of the champions in Mount Juliet are major winners and Rory feels he should be up there this week because of that.
“Yeah, I hope so. I hope to continue that trend, that’s for sure”
“Yeah, I remember quite a bit. I said to Harry, the last time I was on the 18th green here was during the prize ceremony when Tiger won, and I remember I somehow sneaked my way like under the rope onto the back of the green, and I was standing right behind him and his glove was still in his back pocket. And like I could have reached and got it and ran; it would have been a good story to tell him but I obviously didn’t”.
“It was the first time I ever watched Tiger play live. I remember the first shot I ever saw him hit was a drive off the 5th hole, the par 5, and he hit a 2-iron into the green. It was really cool. I idolised him growing up and to actually see the man in the flesh was pretty exciting”.
“Then in 2004, I was sort of — I had sort of made a name for myself in the amateur scene at that point and I had gotten to know Chubby and Darren and stuff, so I was a little more in the — I remember being in the clubhouse and stuff and meeting Ernie after he won. Had a little more access then”.
“But yeah, really good memories coming down here watching. It’s amazing that it’s been 17 years and the tournament hasn’t been back since. Glad to be back and certainly a lot’s changed in the last 17 years since the last time I was here”.