By Brian Keogh
Rory McIlroy filled his boots after a closing 70 gave him his first top-ten finish of the season.
The Holywood teenager, 19, was forced to take his shoes and socks off as he visited the lake at the par-five seventh and took a seven.
But he scorched home in four under par to claim seventh place on six-under par and earn a cool €75,000 in his first Irish Open as a professional.
Relieved to finally post a decent result, McIlroy beamed: “It’s a great week for me. A week I probably needed.
“I haven’t really kicked on from my great start last year on tour. But this week has given me a lot of confidence going into the next few weeks.
“It’s been very good, my first Irish Open as a pro. To come in here with all the expectation on my shoulders, it was absolutely fantastic.
“I was very pleased with the way I bounced back after my pretty poor start today. Looking back on the week I could probably have done a bit better if a few more putts had dropped here and there.
“Hopefully those putts can drop next week or the week after and I’ll keep playing well, get myself into these positions more often and finish one of them off sooner or later.”
Set to tee it up in this week’s PGA Championship at Wentworth, McIlroy jumped from 116th to 78th in the Order of Merit.
But he also leapfrogged Paul McGinley to go 31st in the European Ryder Cup Points List.
He added: “It’s massive for the Order of Merit but the Ryder Cup is maybe at the back of my mind.
“I’ve said at the start of the year that if I could finish in the top 60 in the Order of Merit and get into the top 100 in the world it would be a great first year. And hopefully I am on my way to doing that.”