NEWCASTLE, Northern Ireland, May 28 (Reuters) - World number one Rory McIlroy faces missing the cut for a second week in succession after posting a nine-over-par 80 in the opening round at his home event, the Irish Open, on Thursday.
On a day of strong winds and intermittent showers, McIlroy failed to record a single birdie in a nightmare round at the par 71 Royal County Down course.
He missed the cut at the last two Irish Open tournaments.
His score left him in last position among other players out early after a round that saw him struggle with both his iron play and the putter.
“Off the tee, I felt my game was ok and I put myself in good positions, but then as I got closer to the greens, the worse it got,” said McIlroy.
”I didn’t hit very many good iron shots and then from there my putting wasn’t that good... I sort of just lost concentration on the greens.
“So, nothing went right and I was trying hard to birdie the last to try and break 80, but it just didn’t quite happen.”
Fellow PGA Championship and U.S. Open winner Martin Kaymer did only marginally better with an eight over par 79.
German Kaymer also failed to score a birdie, had three bogeys and two double bogeys in his round.
McIlroy’s score is his poorest in Europe since a similar round of 80 on the second day of the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews.
McIlroy arrived in his native Northern Ireland having missed the cut in last week’s Tour flagship event at Wentworth.
“I’ve got to go out tomorrow and try my best and try to claw my way back inside the cut-off line and back into this tournament,” he said.
“It’s disappointing for the large crowds out there, who followed us around this morning, as I wanted to play well not just for myself.”
Englishman Danny Willett carded a two under 69 to share the clubhouse lead with Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen.
American Rickie Fowler carded a respectable level par 71.
Only six players among the 78 early starters broke par. (email@example.com)