Instead, poor play and a myriad of missed putts left the Ulsterman with an unexpectedly free weekend, his 5-over 145 total causing him to miss the 36-hole cut by three shots. In dissecting his surprising performance, McIlroy noted that fatigue may have contributed to his struggles at the Hong Kong Golf Club.
'If I was completely fresh I wouldn't have been making the mistakes I was making,' he explained to reporters after his second-round 72. 'I've got a couple days to rest and then get ready for Dubai.'
It was just his second missed cut of the year on the European Tour, after sitting out the weekend earlier this season at the BMW PGA Championship. In the U.S., McIlroy missed three cuts in 2012 - The Players Championship, the Memorial and the U.S. Open.
McIlroy got off to a hot start Friday, beginning his second round with four birdies in the first 10 holes, but played the remainder of his round in 6 over. After requiring 35 putts for the second consecutive day, he was quick to point to the putter as an area of concern.
'I didn't putt very well in Singapore,' said McIlroy, who finished third at The Barclays Singapore Open last week. 'This week was the same, so a bit of putting practice is required in Dubai.'
His struggles on the greens came to a head on the par-4 10th hole, his last of the day. Needing a par to salvage any chance of making the cut, McIlroy instead four-putted for a double-bogey 6.
'I hit it a few feet by and then really knew that the second putt was the make-or-break putt,' he explained to reporters. 'I lost concentration on the third, and missed that. So obviously not the week I wanted.'