DUBLIN: Tournament host Rory McIlroy insisted common sense prevailed in having play stopped on an already rain-interrupted third day of the Irish Open on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
McIlroy was three shots clear of his rivals, at nine under par and standing on the 16th tee near 2020 local time (1920GMT) when he became locked in talks with a European Tour official over the value of teeing up in the deteriorating light and continuing rain at the K. Club.
The four-time Major winner clearly did not want to play his tee shot and then have played called for the day after two prior lengthy stoppages.
Play had been suspended firstly for two hours and 18 minutes but no sooner had the players ventured back onto the course and there was a further one-and-a-half delay ahead of a 1955 local time (1855GMT) resumption.
McIlroy had moved to nine under par with a second birdie of his round at the 10th hole and on return following the second stoppage.
Fortunately, common sense prevailed and with McIlroy winning through as play was halted at 2028 local time, and with the third round to continue at 0730am local time Sunday.
“I was getting feedback that people around the 16th green were complaining how dark it was getting and then on the 17th tee what with all the trees surrounding the green,” said McIlroy.
“As well, I had trouble reading my putt on the 15th green so I didn’t know where to hit it and I said to my caddy: ‘I’ll just hit it straight’.
“But they made the right call as it was just getting so dark and I just was not comfortable hitting that tee shot at 16, and also at the thought of having to come back in the morning to play my second shot.”
McIlroy has finally put himself in position to end a six-month winless drought with a bogey-free 15 holes and three shots clear of Masters champion, Danny Willett who will restart his round also on the 16th tee at six under par.
“Today was a day just to hang in there and not make too many mistakes and that’s what I said on Friday that I wanted to do today,” McIlroy said.