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'Lost' McIlroy opens with 74 at Irish Open; eight back

Rory McIlroy
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Not even playing in front of the home fans could help jumpstart Rory McIlroy’s season.

Playing in a steady rain for much of the day, McIlroy slumped to a 2-over 74 Thursday in the opening round of The Irish Open, putting the world No. 2 eight shots behind Oscar Floren. 

After the round, McIlroy admitting to feeling “lost” on the course.

“At the moment, no aspects of my game are strong and I’m just feeling a bit lost at the moment,” he told reporters. “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.

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“Off the tee, I am missing one right and then missing one left and it’s just not going where I want it. It (puts) 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.”

Starting on the 10th hole at Carton House, the Northern Irishman bogeyed Nos. 11 and 12 before rebounding with a birdie on the short 13th. He dropped another shot on 18 after a poor drive, three-putted the par-5 eighth for bogey, and closed with a birdie on his final hole, the par-4 ninth. 

Last year at this event, McIlroy tied for 10th and seemed to get his season back on track. A month later, he won the PGA Championship by eight shots for his second of five eventual worldwide victories in 2012.

McIlroy is still winless this season, on both sides of the pond, as he continues to adjust not only to his new equipment but also a swing that was out of sync at the start of the year. 

Playing at the Irish Open has always proved a unique challenge, McIlroy told reporters Wednesday. He described feeling “suffocated” and having “that burden and that pressure and that expectation” to perform well. Before his T-10 last year, he had finished no better than 34th each of the previous three years.