Portrush - Local hero Rory McIlroy fell just short in a thrilling bid to make the cut at the Open Championship in Northern Ireland on Friday, despite firing a six-under-par second round of 65.
A disastrous eight-over 79 in the opening round left McIlroy facing a mountainous task to reach the weekend, but with the cut line at one-over, the pre-tournament favourite finished only a shot away on plus two.
"Unbelievably proud of how I handled myself today coming back after what was a very challenging day yesterday," said McIlroy, who was roared on all the way by an enthusiastic home support.
"Just full of gratitude towards every single one of the people that followed me to the very end and was willing me on.
"As much as I came here at the start of the week saying I wanted to do it for me, you know, by the end of the round there today I was doing it just as much for them as I was for me.
"I wanted to be here for the weekend. Selfishly I wanted to feel that support for two more days."
Five back-nine birdies left the 30-year-old only needing one more in the final two holes, but he narrowly missed a birdie putt on the 17th hole before sending his approach shot left of the final green.
The last player to make the cut after being tied-150th or worse after the first round was Jack Nicklaus in 1995, and the vast numbers of home fans following McIlroy quickly believed it was possible when he birdied the third.
"Yesterday was a bit of an anomaly, and there's a few big numbers thrown in there. But I felt today I showed the real Rory McIlroy and the golf that I can play," added the world number three.
"Over the last week has been a real sort of, it's been an eye-opener for me.
"Sometimes you're so far away and you forget about all the people that are cheering you on back home. And then you come and play in front of them, it definitely hit me like a ton of bricks today."
Holes appeared to be running out when he made the turn still at six-over for the championship, but a run of three straight birdies from the 10th kept the dream alive.
A bogey at 13 was followed by his seventh birdie in the round on the 14th, and despite a fantastic iron shot which picked up another stroke on 16, the joint-best round of the day was not enough.
Earlier on Friday, 15-time major winner Tiger Woods also missed the cut on six-over par, while Northern Ireland's 2011 champion Darren Clarke made an agonising triple-bogey on the 18th to finish three-over.