Rory McIlroy may have played himself out of the Memorial Tournament before Tiger Woods even reached the first green.
Scuffling to a truly wretched 6-over 78 in his opening round on Thursday, McIlroy posted his worst opening score ever on the PGA Tour (his 80 at the 2011 Masters was on Sunday and he carded a second-round 79 at Jack Nicklaus’ tourney last year).
McIlroy, who said Wednesday his big misses were to blame for his surprising no-win season, proved true to his word when he missed fairways wide right and couldn't find the hole with his putter on his way to an outward-nine 40 that had renowned coach Butch Harmon in shock.
What is going on with Rory, already +4 thru 9 holes at the Memorial ??????? WOW !!!!!!!!— Butch Harmon (@43BH) May 30, 2013
And this, on a golf course the world No. 2 professed to fancy more than most.
“The first couple of times I came here, I really enjoyed the golf course and felt good on it. I feel like the golf course sets up well for me,” McIlroy told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s a...golf course that I really enjoy playing and one that I feel I can do well on.”
Not so much on Thursday, when he finished just two shots north of DFL in the morning wave.
Putter roulette may not be helping much. Since changing from Titleist to Nike equipment to start the year, McIlroy has gone back and forth between a Nike Method prototype and his trusty Scotty Cameron that helped him win his second major, dual money titles and Player of the Year honors in 2012.
Observers on the scene believe Scotty was in the bag again this week, despite its presence when McIlroy missed the cut at last week’s BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour. After a four-putt on the par-3 12th for a double-bogey, could there be another switch-er-oo coming?
Whichever short stick he’s using, it’s not working for him, as his putting stats have dipped (from 80th in strokes gained-putting in 2012 to 100th so far in 2013) along with the rest of his game.
With three more dropped shots on his second nine, McIlroy’s two birdies seemed the anomaly for a golfer in turmoil due to gear, swing and management changes, and apparently on his way to his second straight MC.
Rory now +6 thru 12, not sure what's going on in his head but he needs a change . Go back to basic's and get rid of the posse hit the range.— Butch Harmon (@43BH) May 30, 2013
Should early clubhouse leader Charl Schwartzel hold his 7-under edge through the day, McIlroy would start Friday’s second round 13 shots back.