WENTWORTH — If any golf course was going to bring a shuddering halt to Rory McIlroy’s blistering run of form, it was going to be Wentworth.
Last year’s victory at the BMW PGA Championship aside, the world No.1 has a far from favorable record over the Surrey club’s famous West Course. Add to that the fact McIlroy is playing the fourth leg of five straight tournaments across three countries and eight time zones, he was always going to need his raw natural talent to carry him over the line.
It just wasn’t to be. Despite admitting to being “mentally fatigued” and “battling jetlag”, McIlroy eked round in 71 on the opening day before heading straight back to his hotel room where he holed himself away from the outside world.
But from the second McIlroy’s opening tee shot of the second day went wayward you just felt it wasn’t going to be his day. And so it proved, slumping to a six-over-par 78 to finish well outside the cut line at five-over.
McIlroy somehow managed to find three of the four bunkers on the third hole, which just about summed up his day. Then, with the grandstand at the 18th packed and the galleries six or seven deep, McIlroy rolled home a three-putt bogey before allowing himself a wry smile that suggested he was happy it was all over for another year.
“I’m not going to read too much into it,” he said. “It was inevitable at some point the run was going to come to a bit of an end. I am back to my usual at Wentworth!
“It was not great before last year and it has not been great this year.” Bogeys at three and six were followed by a birdie on the eighth – and a bit of hope – before the wheels truly came off on the back nine.
A further dropped shot at 10 was followed by a double-bogey at 11, where a wild hook off the tee resulted in an unplayable lie and, with his second attempt, another hook into the crowd which caught an unfortunate spectator square on – but nothing a handshake from the world’s best golfer couldn’t heal.
Needing to finish eagle-eagle to make the cut, McIlroy played the final two par-fives in level par and, despite his protests, he will enjoy two extra days of rest before his duties as tournament host at next week’s Irish Open at Royal County Down.
“I would much rather be here for the weekend,” he added, barely fooling anyone. “But if any good comes of this I have a couple of days over the weekend to refresh myself and I will be okay for next week.”
Francesco Molinari is now the man to beat. The Italian takes a two-shot lead into the weekend.