• Playing partner Martin Kaymer only one shot better off
• Rickie Fowler records very respectable round of level par
World No.1 Rory McIlroy endured a nightmare start to the Irish Open and already faces a monumental battle to make it to the weekend after he carded a nine-over par round of 80.
The 26-year-old, whose foundation is hosting the tournament at Royal County Down, failed to record a single birdie throughout his round and, at the time of writing, was last among the early starters.
Playing partner Martin Kaymer didn’t fare much better, finishing only one shot better off in testing conditions, but it was better news for Rickie Fowler, who recorded a very respectable level par round of 71.
Starting on the tenth hole, McIlroy was one-over through five holes but was five-over by the turn after four consecutive bogeys from the 15th to the 18th.
"Hopefully I can make my first birdie of the tournament and claw my way back towards the cut line" - Rory McIlroy
And the front nine wasn’t much better, with more dropped shots at the fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth, and a par at the last saved the Northern Irishman from dropping to double digits over par.
"It's disappointing," a frustrated McIlroy told the BBC. "I want to go out and play well not just for myself but for other people as well. I need to pick myself back up and go again tomorrow and try and shoot a good one.
"I'm not sure what I'm going to need to make it to the weekend. Obviously that'll be my goal tomorrow so hopefully I can make my first birdie of the tournament and claw my way back towards the cut line.
"It's playing tough, but not quite as tough as I made it look. Off the tee it was fine but if you start to miss greens you can make it very difficult for yourself."
Only yesterday, McIlroy announced that he would be donating all of his winnings from the event to charity.
Rory McIlroy :: Will he make the cut?
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