Hong Kong Open defending champion Rory McIlroy missed the cut on Friday, opening the door for leader Michael Campbell. McIlroy struggled with his putting and was five-over after two rounds, well off Campbell's pace (-9).
McIlroy finished the second day with a double-bogey for a round of 72. He would have needed a birdie on his final hole to advance after posting a first day score of 73.
Instead, McIlroy four-putted the 10th green where he finished the round.
He addressed reporters after the event.
I had a great start getting it to four under and in a position from which I might have even won the tournament but then it all went on the slide.
Now I am going to work on few things with my putter before playing in Dubai (in the Tour Championship) next week.
This was the first cut that the 23-year-old world No. 1 had missed since the U.S. Open last June. But it isn't the first time that he's struggled with his flat stick.
A breakdown with his putter cost him dearly on the final nine at the 2011 Masters. He said that his confidence waned, and he needed time to figure out what had happened.
"You know I can’t really put my finger on it. I lost a lot of confidence in my putting around the turn," McIlroy offered. "I didn’t really get anything going and was sort of second-guessing lines and second-guessing my speed, and on these greens you can’t do that."
He figured it out by the U.S. Open, where his putting was superb. He went to work with Dave Stockton on his approach to the putt and reading the greens, leaving his technique alone.
Afterwards he had a few answers on his problems on the Augusta greens.
And people often said to me ‘we think you’re too quick on the greens’. But he (Stockton) thought the opposite. You’re taking too much time, why are you taking three practice strokes? Don’t take any practice strokes anymore. See the target, where I want to hit it, and just go with it.
If I have any sort of technical thing in my thought, in my stroke, it would just be to keep the back of my left hand going towards the target, and that’s all we really worked on. It seemed to work.
Given the fact that McIlroy's putting issues have been more mental than technique, turning things around shouldn't be an issue. He was relaxed and spent time having fun after his rounds at the 2011 Open.
Fans waiting for his appearance in Dubai shouldn't be surprised to hear that he went out and let off some steam in Hong Kong. Leaving the issues on the Hong Kong Golf Club is what is needed to get his putter back in his bag and out of his head.
Add in some mental exercises on the upcoming flight, and McIlroy will be ready to attack the greens in the DP World Tour Championship.
Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks.