Tournament host Rory McIlroy missed the cut for the third year in succession at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open on Friday. The world No 1 could only add a second round of 71 to his opening 80 at a windswept Royal County Down.
The lead, on three-under par 139, was shared by six players – English pair Tyrrell Hatton and Chris Wood, Scotland’s Richie Ramsay, Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen, Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger and Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello.
McIlroy followed his victory in the WGC-Cadillac Match Play with a seven-shot victory in the Wells Fargo Championship, but missed the cut in the defence of his BMW PGA Championship title at Wentworth and conceded the combination of wind, rain and links golf was not to his liking.
“The conditions at Quail Hollow, that’s my game, that’s what I do best,” McIlroy said. “Give me this golf course in those conditions and it would be a much different story.”
The 26-year-old was in sight of making the cut when he followed his first birdie of the week on the seventh with another on the 12th, only to thin a pitch on the 15th and three-putt from off the green for a double bogey.
“I was trying as hard as I could but just couldn’t get a good run of holes going,” added McIlroy, who had pledged to donate his prize money this week to his own foundation.
“Unfortunately I just left myself too much to do. The support out there was phenomenal and it’s the third year in a row they are not going to see me playing on the weekend. I’m more disappointed for them. I’m honestly looking forward to two weeks off before the US Open.”
Minutes later McIlroy was in a car and heading home to Holywood, but although his duties as tournament host prevented an onward journey to Florida, he refused to blame them for his performance.
“It’s not as difficult as you might think. I’m definitely not using that as an excuse,” he added. “If anything it has fallen at a bad time as my fifth tournament in a row. In an ideal world I would have come in here with a bit different preparation.”
Only nine players were sub-par, with the cut coming at five-over par. Hatton’s five-under par 66 was the best round of the week and equalled the lowest score ever recorded at Royal County Down, the 23-year-old carding an eagle, six birdies and three bogeys.
“I got off to a great start and that was the key for me,” said Hatton, who started eagle-birdie-birdie and also chipped in for birdie on the 13th. “Thankfully I kept it going and had a good finish.”
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