The Masters and the US Open ended in disappointment for Ireland’s top players but the spring and early summer still brought its share of highlights, culminating in a sellout Irish Open at Royal Portrush.
“When he four-putted the 12th, he looked like he wanted to leave.”
Angel Cabrera on playing with McIlroy in the final round of the 2011 Masters.
“I gave Rory the option. I said: ‘Rory I have been asked to interview you. Obviously I would understand if you were decline.’ I told him I wouldn’t throw him under the bus. All he said was ‘Right now all I need is a hug. Give me hug and we will do the interview.’ So I gave him a hug and we did the interview.”
Peter Kostis recalls his 72nd hole interview with Rory McIlroy following the infamous meltdown in the final round of the 2011 Masters.
“I’ve won three Majors. I’ve already over-achieved, so I am not going to be disappointed if I don’t win more.”
Pádraig Harrington tries to take the pressure off at Augusta.
“I am against them. I don’t like the idea of attaching something to myself. I just doesn’t sit well with me. I think it is only a matter of time before they are banned.”
Pádraig Harrington’s take on belly putters.
“This golf course gets me. It takes me 12 months to forget how much I dislike this golf course. I said I was coming here with an open mind this week and my mind closed up after about four holes.”
Graeme McDowell on his opening 75 at Augusta.
“It looks like I’ve turned a little bit of a corner with the putting. I’ve been playing very nicely besides that so hopefully over the next few days I’ll put the two together.”
Pádraig Harrington has 27 putts in a 71 that gave him just his third sub-par start in 13 Masters appearances. It didn’t last.
“Seems like every year I come here I throw a bad nine holes out there. 42 today wasn’t a great effort.”
Rory McIlroy on the third round 77 that wrecked his chances of winning the Masters in 2012.
“I’ve got 12 months. That’s a long time. If you take last year to now, a lot’s happened.”
Rory McIlroy looks forward to the 2013 Masters after finishing a disappointing joint 40th at Augusta National.
“I try and get away from trying to justify anything. I am who I am. I’ve spent my whole life trying to get better; changing to get better and continually working to get better. That’s my makeup. Come Monday, you can guarantee I’ll be working on something no matter what happens tomorrow.”
Pádraig Harrington on the eve of the final round of the Masters, where he finished eighth behind Bubba Watson.
“Well done @haza136 for winning the West of Ireland! Some great names on that trophy! ;) All that practice at my house is paying off!!”
Rory McIlroy tweets his congratulations to best friend Harry Diamond on his one-hole win over Claremorris’s Stephen Healy in the West of Ireland Championship at Rosses Point.
“I felt Rory had got to the end of a 12-month journey. Yet that journey that had taken him to great places, Congressional, winning multiple times around the world, the world’s No 1 - but he was on a different journey, he was on his Augusta journey. He had to wait 12 months to get back to Augusta to exorcise some demons.”
Graeme McDowell on Rory McIlroy’s disappointing 2012 Masters and his bid to exorcise the demons of 2011.
“It’s a second chance for me and that’s the way I’m looking at it, so I want to make the most of it.”
Philip Walton turns 50 and heads for the European Senior Tour. He made €17,277 from 13 events and finished 59th in the Senior Tour Order of Merit.
“I’ve heard criticism of me saying that Rory could possibly beat Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors. And it is possible… That’s not saying there won’t be speed bumps on the way as we figured out with Tiger. There are always speed bumps that you don’t see.”
Pádraig Harrington on Rory McIlroy’s chances of winning 18 Majors.
“I’ve been putting very badly. So badly, it was very close to the heebie-jeebies on the greens.”
Pádraig Harrington on his putting struggles.
“I don’t want to be burned out by the time I’m 30. I want to try and prolong my career as much as I can…”
Rory McIlroy on finding the balance between playing too much and too little. May and June brought four missed cuts in five starts.
“Michael is the one person who knows my swing better than anyone.”
Rory McIlroy announces that Michael Bannon will be with him at every major from now on. A few weeks later they decided to make it a full time gig.
“He has a tremendous short game. I mean, you can’t play and score as well as he does without having a great short game, and he does.”
Phil Mickelson on Rory McIlroy’s ability around the greens, one of the keys to his sensational 2012 campaign.
“After a while Howard [Twitty] commented that it looked like I was decelerating on my putts.”
Pádraig Harrington finally discovers what’s wrong with his putting.
“Kiawah, I don’t really know much about it either. I know it will be brutally hard and probably a bit breezy, as well. It’s looking like it’s going to be a great summer of golf.”
Rory McIlroy plays down talk that he doesn’t like Pete Dye courses. He proved it later with that eight-shot win in the US PGA.
“The longest I slept last night was an hour, I was tossing and turning so much.”
Chris Selfridge on final day nerves before his Irish Amateur Close win at Royal Portrush.
“I’d probably play on a zimmer frame if I had to.”
Darren Clarke on his groin injury and his determination to be fit for the Irish Open at Royal Portrush. He made it.
“This year has been a big learning curve for me because I’m still trying to find a balance between being a top‑class golfer and handling media commitments, sponsors’ commitments, trying to have a life outside of all that, just trying to balance everything.”
Rory McIlroy on the difficulty of juggling his commitments to sponsors, media and himself. A hint, perhaps, of changes to come in 2013.
“I relaxed, had lunch, took my shoes off, went and hit some pitches, texted my friends….”
Chris Selfridge on how he prepared for a playoff with Nicky Grant in the East of Ireland at Baltray. He won.
“I knew all along that it would come down to my match. I was watching the boards. I knew how the first four matches had gone so I knew what I had to do.”
Royal Portrush’s Stephanie Meadow after clinching the winning point in Great Britain and Ireland’s dramatic Curtis Cup win at Nairn.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had two four-putts before, and I had two today.”
Pádraig Harrington opens with a costly four over 74 in the US Open. He would go on to finish two shots behind winner Webb Simpson.
“The thing about US Open you got to hit fairways and when you hit it in the fairway you got to hit it on the green. So it’s something that I needed to do a little more often in this tournament.”
Rory McIlroy pays for his waywardness with a missed cut at the US Open.
“There’s a mixture of emotions inside me right now. Obviously disappointment, deflation, pride. But mostly just frustration, just because I hit three fairways today.”
Graeme McDowell knows why he came second in the US Open.
“It has made me more resilient. I’m harder. Anybody who knows me from my amateur days they wouldn’t have thought it was possible for me to get harder. But I have. I am harder.”
Pádraig Harrington on how the tough times have made him stronger.
“I fancy a run at that Claret Jug, I do.”
Following his runner up finish in the US Open, Graeme McDowell sets his sights on The Open.
“I had a lesson with my coach Seamus Duffy last week at Castlerock, and he said if you win the Amateur you’re taking me to the Masters. So I suppose that was a bit of motivation.”
Amateur champion Alan Dunbar following his win at Royal Troon.
“It’s an awkward date but we’re bigger than that now.”
Pádraig Harrington on politics and the chances of The Open being staged at Royal Portrush at the height of the Marching Season.
“We urge spectators not to arrive at the gate in hope of purchasing tickets as there will be no further sales.”
Championship Director Antonia Beggs on the eve of the Irish Open at Royal Portrush, the first event to officially sell out in the history of the European Tour.
“It’s easier to get the kids out in the morning than Pádraig.”
Caroline Harrington on getting up at 4.30am to make her husband’s breakfast.