PORTSTEWART (Northern Ireland) • There are few more turbulent relationships in golf than the one between Rory McIlroy and the Irish Open.
Whereas mutual affection is linked to the Northern Irish golfer's emotional success 12 months ago and the continually successful hosting of the event by the 28-year-old's charity, Portstewart bore witness to the alternative scene yesterday.
His 73 and one-over 145 total comfortably meant another missed Irish Open cut - extraordinarily for the fourth time in just five years - with the tournament to be played out over the weekend minus its marquee player.
"I'm deflated more than anything," McIlroy admitted. "It is disappointing because I felt like I came in here playing well. I now need to practise hard over the weekend to get ready for next week and of course the (British) Open.
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"The event is going to be a success, no matter what. This is just a disappointment for me. I just wish I could have been playing here over the weekend."
He refused to cite hectic off-course demands during Irish Open week as detrimental to his form, saying: "It (the time commitment) is hard but that's not an excuse. I should still be shooting a couple of scores in the 60s with conditions the way they were.
"And, as I said, I felt like I was playing well."
A DAY TO FORGET
It is the simple things I haven't been doing well and golf becomes so much easier when you do the simple things well...
RORY MCILROY, the four-time Major winner, on his disappointment over missing a fourth cut in the Irish Open in five years no thanks to poor putting.
The bigger picture relates to McIlroy's stop-start year and the close proximity of The Open Championship to his latest stumble.
A rib problem has disrupted this season for the four-time Major winner to the extent where competitive rust is clearly visible.
He has had four top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, but missed the cut at the US Open.
He has added next week's Scottish Open to his schedule in a bid to arrive at Royal Birkdale in confident touch; many elements of his game appear sound, with putting woes undermining the world No. 4's hopes of any great leap forward.
Linked to those problems on the greens is McIlroy's visible frustration. He had reached two under after 13 holes before costly failings kicked in.
"With my short game in general, it's just a case of silly mistakes," he said. "I'm not being very efficient with the way I'm scoring so that is making things difficult for me.
"Golf becomes so much easier when you do the simple things well... and the simple things I haven't been able to do, and that makes it tougher no matter who you are."
McIlroy's playing partner Jon Rahm remains in the hunt for a maiden European Tour win after adding a 67 to his Thursday 65 in moving to 12-under 132 after the second round.
Hideki Matsuyama, the other member of the blue-chip opening rounds three ball, sits at 135 on account of his 68.
Home hope may lie with Paul Dunne after he carded a second round of 69 for a 136 halfway total.
Overnight leaders American Daniel Im and Frenchman Benjamin Herbert, who shared a course record with their eight-under 64s on Thursday, continued to lead early yesterday.
Both were on 131 after rounds of 67 each.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
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