McIlroy still getting to grips with clubs
Golf:Rory McIlroy missed the cut in Abu Dhabi today in the worst possible start to his multi-million dollar deal with Nike. The world number one, who reverted to his old Scotty Cameron putter in a effort to find his touch on the greens, could not recover from his opening 75 and when he slumped to six over par with four holes of his second round to go McIlroy was not even in the top 100.
There was no way back from there — certainly not when he only parred the next three — and he carded another 75 for a six over total.
Playing partner and world number two Tiger Woods struggled as well before suddenly finding form late in the day with a hat-trick of birdies. However, a two-shot penalty he incurred early in his round – he only found out about it before signing his card – proved crucial and dropped him to three over and also cut short his weekend.
England’s Justin Rose continued to enjoy himself in the desert sun, meanwhile. The 32-year-old, currently ranked fifth in the world, added a 69 to his opening 67 and on eight under par was one ahead of Welshman Jamie Donaldson (70), Dane Thorbjorn Olesen (69) and Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (67).
“I just felt the greens I have been practising on were much faster. It was just a weight issue,” said the 23-year-old McIlroy, who then abruptly batted away questions about his new equipment. “I’m not here to talk about my (Nike) contract. I’m here to talk about my golf."
“I’ve got four weeks to work on it. I knew it was going to be a tough week (his deal was unveiled on Monday). I hit the ball really well in Dubai last week, but it just got worse for some reason. I’m very disappointed. You never want to get off to a poor start, but I’ve got to realise it’s only the start of the season.”
An embedded ball at the fifth proved to be Woods's undoing. After he took a free drop he had his bogey five turned to a triple bogey because the ball had not been in sand.
European Tour senior referee Andy McFee, alerted after two journalists spoke to another of the referees, told Woods on the 11th hole that there was an investigation going on, but it was only after the round that the penalty was imposed.
“Andy feels the way he feels about it and I broke the rules,” Woods said. “I called (playing partner) Martin (Kaymer) over to verify the ball was embedded. We both agreed, but evidently it was not sand. It’s tough. I didn’t get off to a very good start and I fought. I got it back.”
Rose had only Open champion Ernie Els as his playing partner, Robert Rock pulling out through illness after a 76. Els double-bogeyed the third and dropped two other shots, but also had three birdies for a 73 and level-par aggregate.
“I felt like my game definitely sharpened up,” Rose said. “When you have perfect distance control you know you are swinging it well. I thought it was a decent enough score to keep the momentum going. I was pin-high probably eight times, but kept leaving myself awkward distances and had to keep patient.”
A six-foot putt at the 475-yard 16th produced his only deviation from par on the back nine and he then converted 15-foot chances on the second and fourth, but in between dropped his only shot after missing the green.
The finish was spectacular, however. An eight-iron approach pulled up only a foot from the flag and he said: “I can make those!”Pádraig Harrington was on the same mark after a second successive 72, but with a 73 fellow Dubliner Paul McGinley was heading out on five over in his first tournament as Ryder Cup captain. “I really want to be competitive — I think it’s an important part of the job,” said the 46-year-old.
As captain he can look forward to invitations to the USPGA Championship this year and next, but added: “I don’t want to go there ceremonially.”
Gareth Maybin is best of the Irish in two under after a second consecutive 71, while another 72 for Peter Lawrie left him level alongside Harrington. Michael Hoey was just inside the cut on one over after a 73, but Damien McGrane (six over), Shane Lowry (seven over) and Darren Clarke (10 over) all missed the cut along with McIlroy and Woods.