You know times are tough for the world’s No. 2-ranked player when he uses a major to prepare for something else.
But so it goes these days for a slumping Rory McIlroy, who, after opening with a 79 on Thursday at Muirfield, said he treated Friday’s 18 as a “practice” round.
“I needed to get off to a fast start to have any chance of being here for the weekend but I was five over through seven holes, so that didn’t really happen,” McIlroy said. “After that I just decided to try and I guess practice a little bit for the next few weeks coming up. I decided that I was going to hit driver every hole that I could, because that’s going to be a big factor the next few weeks, and I actually drove the ball pretty well, and ended up playing the last 11 holes even par.”
Modest as it sounds, even-par through 11 marked a vast improvement for the 24-year-old two-time major champ, who described himself as “brain dead” and “unconscious” during Thursday’s eight-over par first round.
It was also too little, too late. McIlroy finished with a 75 on Friday and missed the cut, the first time he failed to make the weekend at the British.
On the upside, McIlroy’s next event is the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, where there is no cut. So he’s got that going for him.
He can also take small comfort in this fact: at least he beat Nick Faldo, who, earlier in the week, had ruffled Rory’s feathers by suggesting that McIlroy should work harder on his game.
The 56-year-old Faldo, a three-time Open champ, shot 79-78.
He’ll return to the broadcast booth, as McIlroy resumes the search for his game. Photo: Rory McIlory walks off the 18th green Friday after a second-round 75 (Getty Images).