Rory McIlroy’s British Open preparations were in disarray Friday after the former world number one missed the cut at the Irish Open.
McIlroy was one under for his round with two holes to play but a double-bogey six on the 17th ended any chance of his playing all four days, leaving him one-over-par 73 for the second round.
That saw the current world number four four shots shy of the projected three under cut-off mark in the $7 million event.
It was the second time in three years the defending Irish Open winner had missed the halfway cut and the fourth occasion in the past five years McIlroy will sit out the weekend rounds in the premier Irish event.
“My short game in general is not good as I am making silly mistakes, so it is not good,” he said.
“Today, I was four yards short of the green on 16 but then managing to get it up-and-down from there from the middle of the fairway, so little stuff like that is so huge for momentum.
“I am just not being very efficient with my scoring and that is why I am making it difficult for myself.”
McIlroy struggled tee-to-green, hitting only half of the 14 fairways, and for a second day running took 33 putts on the greens.
As the event host, McIlroy will remain over the weekend to hand the trophy to the new champion.
He will then cross the Irish Sea on Monday in readiness for next week’s Scottish Open and follow up with the British Open a week later at Royal Birkdale.
American Daniel Im added a second round 67 to move to the clubhouse lead on 13-under par with Spanish sensation Jon Rahm muscling his way to second and just a shot behind after also signing for a 67.
Rahm, who contested the first two rounds alongside McIlroy, capped his round with a fifth hole eagle.
World No. 2 Hideki Matsuyama, and the third member of the McIlroy’s group, was also in contention in adding a 68 to move to nine under par.
Also at nine under was fellow Japan golfer, Hideto Taninhara who produced a bogey free seven under par 65.
Former champion Rory McIlroy found form too late to avoid a second consecutive missed cut in the US Open, but was able to take some positives from his display at Erin Hills.
Playing just his seventh tournament of the year due to a rib injury, McIlroy left himself a mountain to climb following a first round of 78 on Thursday, when a record 44 players broke par.
And despite carding four birdies in his last six holes for a 71 on Friday, the four-time major winner saw his own pre-event prediction come true, having said on Tuesday that anyone who could not hit the wide fairways ”might as well pack your bags and go home”.
“I showed up for the last six holes, anyway,” said McIlroy, who won at Congressional in 2011 with a record 16-under-par total, but is now a combined 55 over par for his other eight US Open appearances.
“I definitely hit it better off the tee. I think I hit 11 fairways other than the five I did (on Thursday). But I think at the end of the day it’s competitive rounds with a card in my hand that I need and I’ve been very light on them this year.
“I saw some positives there on the back nine coming in and hopefully I can take them to the Travelers (Championship) next week. I’m excited to get on a run of golf and get going.”
McIlroy worked with his coach Michael Bannon on making a smoother transition from the top of his backswing and although he was three over par after 12 holes, birdies on the fourth, fifth, seventh and ninth ended the week on a high.
“Even though it’s very disappointing to not be here on the weekend, I think these last two rounds will serve me well going into the summer,” added the 28-year-old, who has added the Scottish Open to his schedule in between the Irish Open and Open Championship.
“I started to let it go a little bit on the back nine and showed what I can do. It didn’t matter at that point because I was so far from the cut line, but at least I know it’s in there, it’s just a matter of getting it out of me and getting myself in the right frame of mind.
“(On Thursday), coming off an injury, I was a little anxious going out there. I got off to a good start, but it sort of caught up with me as the round went on. I think the more rounds I can play, I’m hopefully going to get rid of all that stuff and hopefully strip it down to what you saw the last six holes.
“I’ve got a busy summer, so I’m excited to play a lot of golf. I feel like that’s going to help me to get back into contention and hopefully try to win some of these things.
“I’m hungry, but I’m not going to force it. I’m going to let it happen. I know if I go out and play the golf I’m capable of, good things should happen.”
Rickie Fowler scored a record-equalling seven-under-par 65 to grab the early lead in a low-scoring opening round at the US Open on Thursday as world number one Dustin Johnson struggled to make an impact.
Fowler, the world number nine from California, revelled in benign conditions at Erin Hills Golf Course to notch seven birdies and 11 pars.
With the picturesque par-72 course set up at a monstrous 7,845 yards, Erin Hills had been expected to live up to the US Open’s billing of being the toughest test in golf.
But a week of rain which has softened greens and made fairways more forgiving created an inviting start to the second major of the season.
Fowler wasted no time in exploiting the conditions after teeing off on the 10th, rattling off four quick birdies to be four under.
Two more birdies at the start of his inward nine pushed him to six under and a seventh on his 16th hole of the day saw him finish at seven under.
While the lowest opening round score at US Open is 63, Fowler’s seven under round saw him equal the record for the lowest score to par in the first round of a US Open set by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf in 1980.
Fowler is bidding to become the seventh first-time major winner in a row with in Wisconsin this week.
Fowler led in the clubhouse from three players who finished on five under — Brian Harman, Tommy Fleetwood of England and Brooks Koepka.
A slew of players were under par as play continued.
But world number one Dustin Johnson – the defending champion and pre-tournament favourite – was struggling to get to grips with his game.
Johnson, who arrived at Erin Hills confident that the layout was tailor-made for his big-hitting style, never looked comfortable during a wayward start.
After opening with four pars the problems for Johnson began on the par-five 14th when he three-putted for a double-bogey seven.
A further bogey followed on the par-four 15th. A birdie followed on the 16th but Johnson was soon back in trouble on the 17th, twice finding the rough for this third bogey of the day.
A missed birdie putt on the 18th was emblematic of a miserable front nine. Johnson was three over for the round with three holes to play.
Masters winner Sergio Garcia and world number two Rory McIlroy had afternoon tee-times scheduled.
Meanwhile, six-time US Open runner-up Phil Mickelson confirmed his withdrawal from the tournament on Thursday as expected.
Mickelson had vowed to skip the tournament to attend his daughter’s high school graduation ceremony but had been granted a tee-time on the off-chance any delay in play may allow him to travel across the country to make the first round.
The opening morning also saw drama near the course, when an airship filming aerial images caught fire and crashed.
A pilot on board who apparently parachuted from the aircraft was being treated for injuries.
Galleries at Erin Hills looked on in disbelief as the aircraft could be seen falling from the sky.
“We were watching a group finish on 18 and beyond the green we saw the blimp falling,” witness Adam Johnson told the local Action 2 news network.
US Open officials later said the blimp was not affiliated with the tournament or the US Open broadcast.