An emotional Rory McIlroy fought back the tears after narrowly missing the halfway cut at the British Open despite his brave fightback with a gutsy second-round charge at Royal Portrush.
A day after he imploded with a 79 that began with his first tee shot going out of bounds, Northern Irish hero McIlroy delivered the performance that local fans were expecting.
The 30-year-old shot a superb five-under 66 to move back to two over for the tournament, but he ended agonisingly one shot outside the projected cut line of one over.
The former world No.1 hit three straight birdies after the turn but a bogey on the par-three 13th disrupted his momentum.
A birdie on the 16th offered a glimmer of hope but he failed to get back the stroke he needed, wasting an excellent fairway position on the 18th as he missed the green to the left, leaving himself too much to do.
McIlroy needed time to compose himself as he completed his post-round media duties.
"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," he said.
"I wanted to be here for the weekend. Selfishly I wanted to feel that support for two more days, but today was probably one of the most fun rounds of golf I've ever played.
"I don't get back home as often as I used to (and) it's hard to feel that support from your home people, I guess, but to have that many people out there following me, supporting me, cheering my name, it meant the world to me."
McIlroy is young enough to have one more good chance to win the tournament on home soil, with the R&A expected to bring the event back to Portrush in the next decade or so.
"I wasn't coming here to try and produce any sort of symbolism or anything like that, but to see everyone out there sort of cheering for the same thing was pretty special," he said.
"I wish the ending for me would have been written a little bit differently but it's been an awesome experience and I can't wait to come back here in a few years and play another Open.
"I'm so proud of everyone involved in this tournament, bringing it to Northern Ireland."