Rory McIlroy surprised everyone, including himself, with his poor performance at his 2015 debut on the PGA Tour. The world no. 1 certainly didn’t play up to his standards in the first round of the Honda Classic, posting a three-over 73, and he was unable to turn it around during the rainy, weather-delayed second round at PGA National. In fact, he actually shot one stroke worse on Friday, carding a four-over 74 for a seven-over total, which puts him well outside the cut line.
“I guess after coming off a three-week break, and then felt a little just a little, I wouldn’t say rusty, but just not quite on top of my game yesterday,” said McIlroy.
“Then today, I felt like I was trying to get something going and couldn’t. Coming off three weeks off and playing in conditions like these, it sort of shows you where your game’s at. Just got to regroup and put some work in and get ready for Miami next week.”
McIlroy’s last missed cut dates back to the 2013 Open Championship, and if we’re not counting the majors, the last day he teed it up on the PGA Tour and didn’t play the weekend was at the Memorial Tournament in 2012. (Of course, this isn’t counting the time he withdrew before making the turn in the second round of the 2013 Honda Classic when he likely would have missed the cut.)
“I’m pissed off,” he said, candidly. “I don’t like missing cuts. You want to be playing on the weekend, and I’m not there. Well, I’m here; I’m home. I’m not going to be playing this weekend, which is not nice.”
McIlroy was especially taken aback with his mediocre showing since he was striking the ball well in practice, not to mention he already has one win under his belt this season. Rory kicked off 2015 with the European Tour’s Middle East swing, where he finished second in his first event at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and then won the following week when he captured the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
“Usually I’m good at taking it from the range to the course,” he said. “That’s never really been a problem with me. But this week, it was funny, it felt like the first tournament of the season when I’ve actually played two events.
“I felt yesterday maybe a little tentative, just maybe trying to ease my way into the round a little bit and not really being that aggressive. That’s why it’s nice to have four rounds next week to try and put that right.”
McIlroy ascribed blame for his poor play to his inability to control his ball flight, particularly in the extremely gusty conditions on Thursday.
“I guess I don’t feel like I controlled my ball flight well at all, which you need to in the wind,” he said. “That wasn’t something that I did particularly well. I guess the last three weeks, I haven’t really practiced in many crosswinds. I felt like I struggled in crosswinds out there the last couple days.”
While Rory putted decently in the first round, he missed several big putts on his second nine (he started on no. 10), which largely contributed to bogeys on three of his last four holes. On the par-4 6th, he burned the edge from seven feet to save par. Then, on the par-3 7th, he hit a poor bunker shot and left himself with a 20-footer for par and couldn’t convert for a sandy. Next, he missed a makable birdie opportunity after hitting a superb rescue shot from the pine straw and trees right of the fairway. Finally, on his last hole of the day, McIlroy finished on a sour note when he botched a six-footer for par to end with a three-putt
“I feel like it was more the reads rather than – I felt like I was hitting some good putts,” said Rory. “Just didn’t quite go in.
“I mean, I felt after the birdie on 5, it gave me a chance to at least be here for the weekend and then two bogeys on 6 and 7 just sort of put any thought of that to bed so obviously not what I wanted this week but don’t feel like it’s too far away.”
McIlroy, who lives in nearby Jupiter, plans to practice over the weekend — though perhaps not tomorrow given the forecast for storms — and early next week before heading down to Miami for the WGC-Cadillac Championship.