(Reuters) - Overnight leader Rory McIlroy experienced a stunning free-fall down the leaderbaord after carding three consecutive double-bogeys in the second round of the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio on Friday.
After snaring the first-round lead with an opening 63 at Muirfield Village Golf Club, McIlroy looked like a different player as he struggled to a six-over-par 78.
But McIlroy did not blame his dismal day on a sore left knee he tweaked during the first round, instead admitting that it was poor driving that left him three strokes behind clubhouse leader Thorbjorn Olesen.
“I just kept missing fairways and making it tough for myself and obviously that little three-hole stretch didn’t help,” the Northern Irishman told reporters.
“Take those three holes out and it wouldn’t have been that bad a day but these little runs I‘m getting on it just seems to get away from me.”
McIlroy was referring to the bad habit he has fallen into this year of shooting poor second rounds. In his past three PGA Tour events, he shot 77 (Masters), 76 (Wells Fargo Championship) and 74 (Players Championship) on Friday.
McIlroy arrived at Muirfield Village fresh off winning the European Tour’s flagship BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on Sunday, just days after breaking up with his tennis-playing fiancee Caroline Wozniacki.
His double-bogey run on Friday started at his fourth hole, the par-four 13th, where his second shot from the rough hit a tree and ended up even deeper in the woods.
At the par-four 14th, his approach shot from the juicy rough hit the bank of the pond protecting the green and bounced into the hazard.
Even more shockingly, he also dropped two shots at the par-five 15th, where he hit the ball twice playing a bunker shot, incurring a penalty stroke.
World number one Adam Scott, who played with McIlroy, had a far steadier day, shooting 70 to trail Olesen by one stroke with half the field back in the clubhouse.
Dane Olesen mixed seven birdies with two bogeys to shoot 67 for six-under 138. His performance was a surprise, because he has missed the cut in four of his past six events.
Many of the top players in the stellar Memorial field are using the tournament as a final tune-up for the June-12-15 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.
Reporting By Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue