Irish Open first round leaders
-4 P Harrington (Ire), M Kieffer (Ger);
-3 S Hansen (Den);
-2 D Willett (Eng), S Kjeldsen (Den), E Grillo (Arg);
-1 L Donald (Eng), M Ford (Eng), R Karlberg (Swe), C Wood (Eng), A Levy (Fra), T Fisher Jnr (SA), A Hansen (Den)
Others: Par R Fowler (USA), E Els (SA); +4 S Garcia (Spa); +9 R McIlroy (NI)
Rory McIlroy faces an difficult battle to make the cut at the Irish Open after posting a poor nine-over-par 80 in the first round at Royal County Down, he posted five bogeys in his first nine holes and dropped a further four shots in his second nine.
“I was caught between trying to play two ways. My poor iron play led to missed greens and I left myself a lot of eight to 12 foot putts for par, pretty much all of which I missed,” said McIlroy after his round.
The world number one has missed the cut at the last two Irish Open tournaments.
Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, the 2007 winner, shares the lead with Maximilian Kieffer of Germany on four under par with Soren Hansen one shot behind.
England’s Danny Willett, Argentinian Emiliano Grillo and Dane Soren Kjeldsen are two off the pace after carding rounds of 69 at the Newcastle links course.
Starting at the 10th, world number one McIlroy, who pledged to donate his prize money this week to his charitable foundation, the official tournament host, strayed occasionally off the tee, was repeatedly erratic with his iron play and struggled with the putter throughout.
The Northern Irishman has won two of his last four tournaments, the WGC-Cadillac Match Play and Wells Fargo tournament at Quail Hollow, but missed the cut at last week’s PGA Championship at Wentworth.
McIlroy’s playing partner, American world number nine Rickie Fowler, is in contention near the top of the leaderboard on level par, but the third member of the illustrious group, Germany’s Martin Kaymer, has a lot of ground to make up on eight over.
A first prize of £294,000 is on offer for the winner on Sunday
Update as of 3.15pm 29/5/15
2nd round score
R McIlroy on -1 (+8 Overall)
P Harrington on +2 (-2 Overall)
R Folwer on -1 (-1 Overall)
E Els +2 (+2 Overall)
Current Projected Cut is +4