FOR THE FOURTH time in five years, Rory McIlroy has crashed out of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open before the weekend as his title defence ended at the halfway stage earlier.
The world number four’s love-hate relationship with this tournament continued at Portstewart this week as rounds of 72 and 73 saw him miss the cut by five shots.
McIlroy was one-under par for his round with two holes to play but a double-bogey six on the 17th ended any chance of him playing all four days, as he eventually signed for a one-over par 73.
The Northern Irishman struggled tee-to-green, hitting only half of the 14 fairways, and for a second day running took 33 putts on the greens.
“Yeah, look, I’m really disappointed,” he said.
“The last two times the Irish Open has been in Northern Ireland, not playing at the weekend, it’s obviously not where I want to be.
“It’s been a really frustrating year. Just hasn’t really went the way I wanted it to. And yeah, it’s been tough but I felt like I was playing well coming in here. I played a lot of links golf last week. I was shooting good scores. I was confident. Just when I needed to play well and shoot the scores that I was shooting last week, it just wasn’t quite there.
“So just back to the drawing board and practise a bit and get ready for next week in Scotland.”
He added that his performance at Portstewart this week is the combination of a lack of competitive golf following an injury layoff and the pressures involved with playing, and hosting, a home tournament.
He said: “I think it’s a combination of both. Yeah, I haven’t played as much as I would have liked this year. Yeah, I think that, as well as just — yeah, I need to play more. I feel like I’m starting on a run of doing that. I’m make next week in Scotland, The Open. I’m going to play a lot of events over the summer.
“But I really need to get my game in order if I want to challenge in them. So bit of practise over the weekend and hopefully I can find something and go with it over the next few weeks.
“I don’t feel like I’m that far away. I really don’t. It’s a little — a few putts dropping here or there. It’s a few up-and-downs that I haven’t been able to get the last couple of days. It’s all that stuff that isn’t so obvious.
“If I can do those things right and do the simple things right, I think that’s — I can hit a 5-iron from 220 yards and hit it in the middle of the green, but I can’t get it up-and-down from 30 feet. So if I can do the simple things right, then it makes the game a lot easier. I just need to concentrate on that.”
Benjamin Hebert and Daniel Im are the overnight leaders heading into the weekend after both shot rounds of 67 on Friday, with Jon Rahm sitting one adrift on 12-under par.
Paul Dunne, meanwhile, leads the Irish challenge and is certainly the in-form player after another low round which saw him card five birdies.
The Wicklow native is eight-under overall and is in a tie for 12th while Pádraig Harrington is one shot back.
Shane Lowry finished with back-to-back bogeys as he dropped back to five-under par while Graeme McDowell missed the cut on two-under par.
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