McIlroy heads for exit at Hong Kong Open
‘The wheels came off,’ says world number one as the tournament loses its big drawcard
Jaded world number one Rory McIlroy was out for the count at the UBS Hong Kong Open today, looking certain to miss the cut with a five-over-par 145 at the US$2 million tournament.
McIlroy, money-list winner on both sides of the Atlantic this season, said “the wheels came off” after adding a two-over 72 to his dismal first-round 73 to leave his title defence in tatters.
“Obviously, this is not the week I wanted,” said McIlroy, 23. “If I was completely fresh I wouldn’t have been making those mistakes out there. I got off to a good start and had a chance to go minus five today and then it just started going the other way and I was on a slide.”
Needing a good round to get back into contention, the tournament drawcard got off to a promisng start when he rolled in three birdies in four holes on his front nine. He added another birdie early on his home journey to be one-under-par for the tournament before the slide began.
“I misjudged the speed on a couple of greens which were pretty slick and my putting was not at its best,” said McIlroy, who bogeyed four holes on the back nine to lose momentum and aggregate three-over with two holes to go.
With the cut-off projected at plus two, the Northern Irishman felt he still had a chance, but a poor drive on his penultimate hole saw him end up in the trees and he had to scramble to make par. Then at the last hole, the Hong Kong Golf Club’s signature par four, things went from bad to worse as he three-putted for a double bogey.
“I thought I would go for it on the last. I saw the projected cut was plus two and felt that, depending on the conditions later in the day and depending on what the other guys did, I still had a chance. I wanted to hole it anyway but I hit it a few feet by and still felt the second putt could be crucial, but I missed it. I just lost concentration,” McIlroy said. “The winds were tricky but I didn’t putt well.”
Denmark’s Anders Hansen grabbed the early clubhouse lead after carding a six-under 64 to total seven-under 133. But this total is expected to come under pressure with many of the leading contenders starting their second rounds.
Overnight leader Javi Colomo of Spain failed to make the most of a sound start and could only manage a 71 to finish on five-under at the halfway stage.