OAKMONT, United States (AFP) - A shocking back-nine implosion sent Rory McIlroy reeling out of the US Open on Saturday, the world number three missing the cut at a major for the first time since the 2013 British Open.
The Northern Ireland star, who won the US Open in 2011, was charging early in the second round with four birdies in his first seven holes.
But his bid to bounce back from a seven-over opening effort stalled with a four-putt double-bogey at the par-four third.
That was followed by a bogey at the par-three sixth and finally, with his hopes of playing at the weekend in the balance, a double-bogey to cap his round at the ninth.
Teeing off on 10, McIlroy opened with a birdie and picked up shots at 12, 14 and 16.
The 17th may have been a harbinger of things to come. He drove the green of the par-four for a look at eagle, but three-putted for par.
At the third, two impressive shots left him 13 feet for birdie, but it was only after four putts that he staggered off the green.
A bogey at the sixth left him on the cut-line as he arrived at the ninth.
McIlroy found a fairway bunker off the tee and needed two shots to get out of it.
It was a disappointing exit for the 27-year-old, who displayed solid form in posting his first victory of 2016 at the Irish Open in May.
He still looked sharp in a fourth-placed finish at PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament.
But he said after his seven-over opening round that he was struggling with his swing - never a good thing on a course as exacting as Oakmont.
"I know what I'm doing, but it's hard to change it out there," McIlroy said.
If he sticks to his announced plans, McIlroy will tee it up on June 30 in the French Open before the Open Championship at Troon, Scotland July 14-17.
McIlroy will have extra motivation at Troon, after missing his Open title defence last year because of injury.
And he's proved well able to bounce back from adversity before, following up a 2011 last-round Masters collapse with an eight-stroke US Open triumph that marked his first major title.