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Double Whammy: Sputtering No. 1 McIlroy misses second straight cut at key event

By Steve Elling | Senior Golf Columnist
From flagship to flagging, in two uncomfortable weeks.

After authoring the most impressive run of his young career over the early portion of the 2012 season, world No. 1 Rory McIlroy is inexplicably experiencing the other end of the spectrum in a very public fashion.

For the second straight start.

The wobbling world No. 1 birdied the last hole to shoot a 7-over 79 on Friday at the prestigious BMW PGA Championship outside London and missed the cut by the size of a double-decker bus, marking his second weekend off in as many global events.

Rory McIlroy expresses frustration on Friday at the BMW PGA Championship outside London, England. He shot a 79 to easily miss the cut for the second straight tournament. (Getty)
Two weeks ago, McIlroy was sent home after two rounds at the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, the flagship tournament run by the PGA Tour. The Euro Tour event at Wentworth represents the best event run by the European circuit.

The other common thread? McIlroy has badly bungled both.

Faced with a slight chance at mounting a rally and surviving, McIlroy played a crucial mid-round stretch Friday with a double-bogey and five successive bogeys to blow any chance. He played one eight-hole stretch in 9 over.

Bad as it was with rounds of 72-76 at Sawgrass, this was even worse. As the Ulsterman played the last two holes of the back nine, there were seven players ranked outside the world top 1,000 who were beating him, and only five players behind him on the tournament leaderboard.

He finished 36 holes at 9 over, 8 shots beyond the projected cut, and an astounding 21 strokes behind halfway leader James Morrison.

It marked the popular 23-year-old's first missed cut in a regular European Tour event since the 2008 Johnnie Walker event. In fact, starting in 2009, McIlroy had missed a total of two cuts over the past four seasons in EuroTour competition entering the week.

It was the abrupt turn of events that was most vexing.
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McIlroy had fashioned an incredible run starting in 2011 that helped him supplant Luke Donald as world No. 1 in March. In one career-best run, McIlroy finished T5 or better in 11 of 12 official starts. But the uneven play began soon thereafter, when McIlroy had a dismal weekend at the Masters after being in contention after 36 holes at the Masters. He finished T40.

It might have something to do with the two venues. McIlroy has never made the cut at Sawgrass, going 0-for-3, and had managed one top-20 finish in four appearances at Wentworth. He missed the cut in 2009.

Then again, it was just three weeks ago at the PGA Tour's event at Quail Hollow, however, that McIlroy matched the lowest 72-hole score of the week before being beaten by Rickie Fowler in a playoff. He again moved back to the world No. 1 spot as a result.

It's been a confusing stretch – for everybody. This it didn't take long for the fan feedback to begin, including some questionable shots aimed at his personal life, and girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki in particular.

A few of the Tweet sniper offerings:

Rory McIlroy needs to lose the bird. She's ruining him.

I think Rory McIlroy wants to concentrate on his golf rather than jetting off all around the world every other few days.

McIlroy lead the Race to Dubai standings entering the week.

If defending Wentworth champion and world No. 2 Luke Donald finishes eighth or better this week, he will again unseat McIlroy in the top spot. The two have already swapped positions five times in the past 13 months.

Donald was T2 as McIlroy finished.
 
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