‘Golf is a very fickle game and it can humble you quite quickly,’ McIlroy had replied on Wednesday. Yet who imagined it would be this quick, after he turned up here on the back of two wins in three weeks in America and lapping the field at the top of the world rankings?
All that counted for nought as his title defence fizzled out miserably following rounds of 71 and an error-strewn 78 yesterday.
This was clearly a couple of rounds too far for the Northern Irishman, after that busy spell on the other side of the Atlantic and a packed programme since he arrived in this country.
There was no shortage of effort and no examples of him losing his temper either, for those who wish to make meals of these things. The plain fact is, there is never been a golfer born who has not had tournaments like this and here it was Rory’s turn, not for the first time and certainly not the last either.
A weekend off will surely prove a blessing in disguise, with him hosting the Irish Open next week and then travelling back to America for next month’s US Open.
‘Any time you win you want to put in a valiant effort the following year but I couldn’t muster anything down the stretch,’ said McIlroy, whose curious record at Wentworth now reads three missed cuts and a win in the last four years. ‘I’m going to cut myself a little slack after the run I had in America and not read too much into it. And while I’d rather be here, a weekend off might be what I need.’
McIlroy’s long game was unusually frayed at the edges and like most of the field he suffered on the lamentable greens. The leading golfers are only too well aware that moaning about putting surfaces leaves them wide open to being portrayed as prima donnas but there were good reasons for the bemused looks of many, while a few brave souls tried their hand at constructive criticism.
‘The greens have got worse every year since they redid them and they’re not as good as they should be for a tournament of this size,’ said Englishman Luke Donald, who won here in 2011 and 2012, and is not that far behind this time, at six off the pace set once more by the Italian Francesco Molinari.
Considering the greens were only relaid in 2009, it must be disappointing to the club that another large investment appears to be needed. It probably did not help either that 200 people traipsed round them in the celebrity pro-am on Wednesday.
‘I had a 4ft putt on the last that must have looked easy on television but that was different from the running commentary in my head,’ said Justin Rose, who will begin today in 37th place on one under. ‘It is disappointing given the reason they changed them was so that if anyone had a 6ft putt on the last green on Sunday to win they could feel confident about holing it if they struck the putt true. But that’s not the case.’
What makes it doubly disappointing is the way the tournament has progressed in every other measure. The tented village would not look out of place at an Open Championship while the crowds are close to Open-sized as well. But the greens, sadly, are monthly medal standard.
Still, someone always manages to find the bottom of the hole and for two rounds it has been Molinari, who followed up his opening 65 with a 69. He is one shot clear of Korea’s Byeong Hun An, with Argentine Emiliano Grillo and Thongchai Jaidee from Thailand a further shot back. Local boy James Morrison is three adrift.
As England toiled on the second day at Lord’s the thoughts of a buoyant Morrison appeared particularly apposite. ‘Standing around in the field all day doesn’t seem very appealing any more, ’ he said. ‘I think I made the right decision.’
Morrison, of course, is the man who played in the same England Youths cricket team as captain Alastair Cook before deciding at the age of 16 to try his hand at golf. While the early optimism England generated down the road on day one evaporated, Morrison has gone in the opposite direction.
Four over par after 10 holes on Thursday and seemingly suffering a hangover following his four-stroke victory in the Spanish Open last week, the 30-year-old rocketed into contention with a fine 66 yesterday.
‘After that start I definitely didn’t imagine I’d be so close to the lead but I’m playing well and I want to keep this form snowballing,’ he said.– Daily Mail
Original source: McIlroy not 'invincible’after all