Rory McIroy's hopes of reversing his dire fortunes at the Irish Open came to a crashing halt after another mediocre showing in Round 2. That condemned him to a familiar early exit from this championship.
McIlroy had been dismal during the opening round at Fota Island, where most of the damage to his chances was done. He lamented his own preparation as a major factor in his failings, per The Guardian:
I’m jet-lagged wherever I go because I’m travelling so much, so it’s not like that’s an excuse for me. But not being able to do much on Monday and Tuesday was really frustrating, I would have liked to have hit some balls and done some practice those couple days to prepare.
But sometimes that’s just the way it goes and I just need to play better the next few years and get my own plane so that doesn’t happen.
McIlroy hadn't been able to "do much" because, believe it or not, he was without clubs until the eve of the tournament. That calamity summed up his time in Cork, a miserable foray into his national championship.
McIlory made sure he got his practice shots in ahead of Round 2, per The Irish Open Twitter account:
However, the practice did McIlroy few favours, even though he was better in Round 2 than he had been on opening day. But starting the play so far behind made the task too tough, even for McIlroy.
He was forced into playing risky shots. His swing was never consistent, as McIlroy always seemed to have most of his mind on erasing the disaster of Round 1.
BBC Sport detailed how McIlroy couldn't match enough spectacular shots with efficiency at key moments:
McIlroy, the highest-ranked player in the field at number six, had a 69 but after his opening 74 it was not enough.
It was the second year in a row 25-year-old McIlroy has made an early exit at the Irish Open.
He needed to finish birdie-eagle to qualify for the weekend and although he holed from long range on the 17th and hit a brilliant escape from the trees on the last, he was unable to chip in from the front of the green.
Despite his struggles during his time at Fota Island, McIlroy continued to be the big draw on the course. The lion's share of spectators followed his every stroke, even if a comeback into contention was always unlikely:
Here's McIlroy's Round 2 and final scorecard for this Open:
|3||2 - Birdie||3|
|4||7- Double Bogey||5|
|5||4 - Birdie||5|
|6||3 - Birdie||3|
|8||5 - Bogey||4|
|9||5 - Bogey||4|
|10||3 - Eagle||5|
|12||5 - Bogey||2|
|13||2 - Birdie||3|
|16||5 - Bogey||4|
|17||2 - Birdie||3|
|18||4 - Birdie||5|
The successive Bogeys at the eighth and ninth holes effectively ended McIlroy's tournament. His Eagle on the 10th was the bright moment of the day, but it couldn't redress the damage.
That left McIlroy nowhere near a leaderboard that was all change behind front-runner Mikko Ilonen:
|T2||Graeme McDowell||Northern Ireland||-8|
|T8||Gareth Maybin||Northern Ireland||-6|
McIlroy has already qualified for The Open Championship, but it will still sting his pride to have made such a feeble showing at Fota Island.
Rory McIlroy came into the Irish Open at Fota Island seeking redemption for a disappointing U.S. Open campaign that promised so much at Pinehurst last week.
Under par heading into the weekend in North Carolina, McIlroy closed with rounds of 74 and 73 to post a final score of six-over par in a tie for 23rd place, 15 shots behind champion Martin Kaymer.
Perfect timing, then, for the Northern Irishman to return to the UK and build confidence in one of the European Tour’s weaker fields, but he didn’t get off to the best of starts when United Airlines lost his clubs in transit, as he revealed via Twitter:
Hey @united landed in Dublin yesterday morning from Newark and still no golf clubs... Sort of need them this week... Can someone help!?— Rory Mcilroy (@McIlroyRory) June 17, 2014
Though the airline eventually returned the clubs to the former world No. 1, he’d almost be wishing they didn’t after enduring a disappointing opening round in Cork.
Playing alongside Padraig Harrington and Stephen Gallacher, McIlroy posted a three-over-par 74 that included six bogeys and three birdies in a round in which his short game let him down, as his scorecard shows below:
The round left the pre-tournament favourite in a tie for 67th when he came into the clubhouse after signing for his 74, with the top 10 out of sight. Here's how they lined up at the top of the leaderboard after McIlroy's round:
Starting on the 10th hole, McIlroy kicked off with two bogeys in his first five holes, with his bogey on the 14th setting the tone for the rest of the round.
Having missed the green on the 417-yard par four, the 25-year-old duffed his chip and was forced to accept a bogey. Though a birdie at the 18th put him one over par at the turn, he struggled on his back nine and lamented to his three-over total.
Bogeys on the second, third, sixth and seventh saw McIlroy’s round slip away from him, though birdies on the fifth and ninth did repair some of Thursday’s damage.
Speaking after his round, the Northern Irishman lamented his short-game performance but took some positives from the way that he drove the ball on Thursday—per European Tour:
I still drove the ball great and got in the positions that you need to, but short-sided myself a couple of times, hit a couple of loose shots with my wedges and could not get a putt to drop. I was pretty sloppy with the scoring clubs so I might head to the range this afternoon to work on those. I need to do better tomorrow to be here for the weekend.
With the Irish Open leaders hovering around five-under par at the time of his return to the clubhouse, McIlroy needs a drastic improvement if he’s to do any damage at Fota Island.
Having missed the cut last year in the middle of some disappointing form, McIlroy is now staring at back-to-back missed cuts if he cannot make corrections to his short game.