Rory McIlroy faces missing the cut for a second week in succession after posting his worst European round in five years on day one of the Irish Open on Thursday.
The world number one failed to record a single birdie in a shock round of nine-over par 80 on a day of constant wind along with intermittent showers at Royal County Down, Newcastle in Northern Ireland.
McIlroy’s score left the four-time Major Champion with the embarrassment of being last among the morning starters while fellow PGA Championship and US Open winner Martin Kaymer, who played alongside McIlroy, was only marginally better with a round of eight-over 79.
McIlroy’s score is his poorest in Europe since a similar score of 80 on day two of the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews.
“Off the tee I felt my game was okay and I put myself in 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 with my speed off and 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.”
McIlroy arrived home in Northern Ireland having missed the cut in last week’s Tour flagship event at Wentworth.
But while he was the defending champion last week, McIlroy’s Irish Open record is poor having missed the cut the previous two years.
McIlroy first contested the Irish Open in 2005 as a 16-year old and shooting a second round 81 to sit out the weekend rounds.
His opening Royal County Down round was a mix of five outward bogeys, including four in succession from his sixth hole, and four dropped shots over his inward nine.
“I have just got to go out there tomorrow and try my best and try and claw my way back into inside the cut-off line and back into this tournament,” he said.
England’s Danny Willett, who was a teammate of McIlroy’s in the 2007 Walker Cup side that went down to a USA Team at Royal County Down, carded a two-under par 69 to share the clubhouse lead with Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen.
Only four players among the 78 early round starters had managed to break par.