VIRGINIA WATER, England — How comfortable does Rory McIlroy feel being World No. 1 now?
Not very is the easy answer.
Two days ago Rory McIlroy told the world he was comfortable at the top of golf’s pecking order, otherwise known as the Official World Golf Ranking. He looked anything but as he limped away from Wentworth after missing the cut in the €4.5 million BMW PGA Championship with a second-round 79.
It is McIlroy’s worst score since his final round 80 in last year’s Masters, and his worst score in a regular European Tour event since an 83 in the first round of the 2007 South African Airways Open.
“I was really wanting to make a four on the last score to break 80,” McIlroy said.
That was obvious on the last green when he U.S. Open champion two-putted from 30 feet and then gave a mini-fist pump to his caddie JP Fitzgerald.
“It’s just a week I want to forget and move on,” McIlroy said.
It’s the second tournament in a row that McIlroy has missed the cut in a flagship tournament. Three weeks ago he only lasted two rounds in The Players Championship.
“I just think I’ve lacked competitive rounds,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting to the States and playing four rounds. I’m still confident in my ability.”
In 117 tournaments on the European and PGA Tours, McIlroy has now missed 16 cuts – 13 in Europe and three on the PGA Tour.
However, McIlroy didn’t just miss this cut – he missed it by a country mile (eight shots off the cut line and 21 shots off the lead). The Wentworth West Course is affectionately known as the Burma Road. The most naturally gifted player in the world lost his bearings so badly he nearly had difficulty finding a route back to the clubhouse. At times he looked like he needed a GPS unit mounted on his golf bag.
McIlroy began the round at 2 over after an opening 74 that included an angry club toss on the 12th hole when he hit it out of bounds. Although he began his second round with two bogeys in his first three holes, he got back to level after five holes, and got to 1 under through seven. Then he veered off track.
The 23-year-old double-bogeyed the 8th hole, airmailed the 9th green by 30 yards to start a run of five consecutive bogeys. He didn’t get back on track until he parred the par-3 14th hole. By then it was too late.
Yet the car wreck continued with a double-bogey six on the 15th.
“There’s just something about the middle of this course golf course I can’t get to grips with,” he said.
“It’s a tricky golf course and if you’re just off your game then it can magnify your mistakes.”
There’s no shame in missing a cut obviously, but the margin by which McIlroy missed was just astonishing. He hadn’t missed the cut in a European Tour event since the 2010 Masters. Excluding the majors, he hadn’t missed a cut in a regular European Tour event since the 2008 Alfred Dunhill Championship.
The last time McIlroy missed back-to-back cuts was in 2010, when he missed the cut in the Houston Open and the following week’s Masters.
McIlroy’s dramatic exit throws open the door for Luke Donald to retake the No. 1 spot – again. Defending champion Donald needs to finish top eight to go back to the top.
The Englishman lies second with two rounds to go, four shots off the lead. Suffice it to say, Donald is feeling far more comfortable right now than the whiz kid from Holywood.