MAYNOOTH, Ireland (AP) -- Rory McIlroy shot a 2-over-par 74 in the first round of Irish Open on Thursday and says he feels "a bit lost" in what has been a difficult year.
The world's No. 2-ranked golfer again struggled with his driver and managed just two birdies on a wet, overcast day at the Carton House course on the outskirts of Dublin.
McIlroy is seven shot behind clubhouse leader and playing partner Shane Lowry. Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, who also played with Lowry and McIlroy and who won the event in 2006 when it was last played at Carton House, shared second at 4 under with England's Paul Casey and Australia's Andrew Dodt.
"At the moment, no aspects of my game are strong and I'm just feeling a bit lost at the moment," he said. "It feels good on the range and I can hit all the shots but when I get out on the course it really does not seem to be there.
"Off the tee, I am missing one right and then missing one left and it's just not going where I want it. It gets you in two minds every time you are playing a tee shot.
"The game is just not coming easy to me at the moment and while I was struggling at this point last year, I was able to turn the corner in the middle of the summer and have a great end to my season.
"I don't know whether it's a matter of trying to play my way out of it or just keep grinding away on the range or whatever."
Lowry captured the Irish Open as an amateur in 2009. Earlier this year, Lowry also sent his good friend McIlory out of the opening round of the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona.
Now he has again upstaged McIlroy in a round that included six birdies and just one bogey.
"I was just chomping at the bit to get out there this morning and I was just trying to play me way into the tournament nicely so I'm really pleased with a 67," he said.
"But it's really a privilege to be able to play on my home golf course, stay in my own house, and have all my family and friends up home to watch me. What more could a professional golfer want?"