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Steve Sands tells inside story of Rory McIlroy’s tearful interview at Portrush

August 30, 2019

Rory McIlroy’s interview following a heartbreaking missed cut at the 2019 Open Championship served as a reminder that the most meaningful moments in sports often have little to do with who went on to win.

McIlroy, playing in his home country of Northern Ireland, felt the weight of the world on his shoulders, and it showed en route to an opening 79, all but eliminating him from contention. But McIlroy showed such determination on day two at Portrush that he rallied to the brink of the cut line with a six-under 65.

After the round, McIlroy was notably emotional during an interview with Golf Channel’s Steve Sands.

“It was awesome, I’m sort of emotional,” he said after his round. “I feel like I get a lot of great support anywhere I go — but I really felt it today for whatever reason. Every green to tee, all these people are here for me and they want me to do well, and…it sucks I’m not here for the weekend, I would have loved to play in front of them for two more days, but I’m proud of how I stuck in there,” he said.

This week, Sands joined the Drop Zone podcast to recall how emotional the interview had been for him, too.

“Those folks love Rory Mcilroy. They love Darren Clarke, and they love Graeme McDowell, but man were they rooting for Rory McIlroy to make that cut,” he said. “That place was going crazy. And Rory was coming down the stretch so emotional, just trying to make it to the weekend. This is a guy who’s won four major championships, he’s won a claret jug, he’s got all the money in the world, and he’s trying to make a cut for the country, because the country was on his back — and that probably was the reason he got off to such a bad start on Thursday.

“So to me, the interview with him afterwards, him being so emotional, I’ve been doing this 29 years and I’ve never cried. I’m a crier, I cry at everything — and I’ve never cried on live TV. And Rory got me,” Sands continued.

“He was so emotional, so genuine, so true to himself, just so Rory McIlroy. And it’s one of the reasons that I truly love the guy and I just think he’s a fabulous person along with being a fabulous golfer.”

You can hear the complete interview with Sands — he dishes on his relationship with Tiger Woods, the new FedEx Cup playoff format, interviewing McIlroy and much more — below.

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