Rory McIlroy: Why 2012 Masters Was His Most Disappointing Major Yet

Scott Semmler@@ScottSemmler22Analyst IIApril 7, 2012

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 07:  Rory McIlroy (R) of Northern Ireland reacts as he walks up the 18th fairway with his caddie J.P. Fitzgerald during the third round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

We are not fully used to Rory McIlroy disappointing the fans just yet, but Saturday at Augusta National was pretty close to McIlroy not meeting expectations when all eyes were on him.

Entering Saturday, he was just one stroke behind the leaders and by the end of the day he was clearly out of the running for the championship by shooting a five-over par 77. He will start Sunday 10 strokes behind the leader Peter Hanson.

For a moment, we forgot all about Tiger Woods' disappointing tournament and instead focused the attention on McIlroy's surprise round that left everyone in disbelief.

Rounds like this happen a lot. McIlroy did the same thing at the Masters last year when his back nine became a stretch of holes to forget. But this was McIlroy's time. It was his chance to outshine the rest of the top golfers in the world golf rankings and show them that he was currently the best player in golf.

That was not exactly what happened, which was why with this much focus and expectation on the 22-year-old, his inability to produce on Saturday made it that much more disappointing to see.

It was disappointing for several reasons. Many figure that McIlroy is the next Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus. For him to not come up big in a Masters tournament when all eyes were on him was so un-Tiger-like, which is why McIlroy should be hanging his head about his round.

Ultimately, it was a missed opportunity for McIlroy.

Woods had tumbled down the leaderboard and some of the best players in the world were searching for answers on a pristine Saturday afternoon at Augusta. If McIlroy was to post a good score on moving day, he would have been right there and in contention on Sunday.  

However, with yet another debacle on the first hole, McIlroy was unable to pull himself up by the bootstraps as he did on Thursday and reclaim the round.

McIlroy's morale went down after that front nine in which he carded three sixes on his way to a front nine 42. He had spurts of brilliance towards the end of the round with three birdies in his final seven holes, but the round had been lost for some time.  

Now, he is left to find out what could have been if his game had been on display on Saturday.