By Brian Keogh
Darren Clarke crashed out of the Open with a horror finish as Rory McIlroy became Ireland's first Silver Medallist for 49 years.
The Ulsterman, 38, was one over par with five to play but bogeyed the 14th, 15th and 16th before taking a double bogey six at the last for a 76.
Out of the weekend action on six over par, Clarke stormed out of the recorder's area without saying a word.
But there was a silver lining to the Ulster cloud as McIlroy became the first Irish player to take the Silver Medal for 49 years.
All five of McIlroy's amateur rivals missed the cut and McIlroy said: "It's a great feeling. No matter what happens now I will be on the 18th green on Sunday for the presentation.
"But there will be no celebrating tonight. I am going to look forward to the next two days.
"I still want to qualify for next year so my goal now is to finish in the top 10 and achieve that.
"It would have been nice to see a couple of the other amateurs get through to the weekend. It would be a bit of a challenge for me."
Joe Carr was the last Irishman to win the medal in 1958 and was also the last Irish amateur to make the cut in 1965.
Six Irish amateurs have made the cut in the history of the Open with McIlroy joining the likes of Carr, Jimmy Bruen, Charles Hezlett, Cecil Beamish and David Soulby.
Mentor Clarke will not be around to see his protege pick up the medal after a nightmare finish to his round.
The Ulsteman turned in level par with two birdies and two bogeys before shanking his approach at the 14th to start a run of dropped shots.
Three putts at the 15th, a missed two footer at the next followed by a bunkered approach and three more putts at the 18th ended his Open.
Waterville's David Higgins reeled off nine pars in a row and then mixed two birdies and two bogeys on the way home for a fine level par 71.
But that was nowhere near enough to undo the damage of an opening 79 and he bowed out of his first major on eight over par.