RORY McILROY’S hopes of ending his eight-year Major championship famine suffered body blows at two of the shortest holes at Southern Hills.
McIlroy found water at the par three sixth to run up a double bogey five – and still looked shell-shocked as he dropped shots at seven and eight to fall off the leaderboard.
And his bid to bounce back on the back nine hit the rocks as he suffered another shocker at the 168 yards 11th, where he ran up a triple bogey SIX.
McIlroy hooked his tee shot into deep rough, took two more shots to find the green, and then three-putted from inside ten feet.
Birdies at 13 and 14 repaired some of the damage, but it will take something special for him to chase down the leaders today.
Those early struggles meant the rich promise of McIlroy’s first round 65, which gave him the outright lead in a Major for the first time in eight years, were ebbing away in depressingly familiar fashion.
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Even if the four time Major champion is able to recreate his final round heroics from the Masters – where he shot a stunning 64 to suggest his next big win might not be far away – it will almost certainly be another case of too little too late.
At least McIlroy did not suffer the same fate as the man who pushed him into second place at Augusta, world No 1 Scottie Scheffler.
Scheffler spent the weekend doing something very unfamiliar after missing the cut by two shots – trying to work out exactly what went wrong at his “favourite course in the world”.
Scheffler was not the only big name heading home from Southern Hills earlier than expected.
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Double Major winner Dustin Johnson also finished on six over par, while Ryder Cup team-mate Patrick Cantlay was a whopping five shots worse off.
European Ryder Cup team-mates Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter also went home early – and there is a good chance that the next time we see them will be in the £20million Saudi-backed LIV Series opener at St Albans on June 9.