NEWCASTLE, United Kingdom (AFP) - Tournament host Rory McIlroy faces the embarrassment of missing the cut for a second week in succession after posting his worst European round in five years on day one of the Irish Open.
At Newcastle in Northern Ireland, the world number one failed to record a single birdie in a shock round of a nine over par 80 on a difficult day of steady win and intermittent showers at the Royal County Down course.
McIlroy ended the round sharing 150th place in the now 155-player field and trailing a massive 13 shots behind the leading duo of fellow Irishman Padraig Harrington and Germany's Maximilian Kieffer.
Harrington, winner of the event in 2007, and Kieffer carded rounds of four under par 67 to be a shot clear of Denmark's Soren Hansen who captured the tournament in 2002.
Germany's double Major winning Martin Kaymer, and who played alongside McIloy, also struggled in signing for an eight over par 79 to be tied in 143rd place in the 2.5 million euro event.
McIlroy's score is his poorest in Europe since a similar score of 80 on day two of the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews.
It also is only the fourth time he's shot 80 or higher since turning professional in late 2007 while it is the first occasion since the 2012 Memorial on the PGA Tour McIlroy has not managed a birdie.
"Off the tee I felt my game was okay and I put myself in positions but then as I got closer to the greens, the worse it got," said McIlroy.
"I didn't hit very many good iron shots and then from there my putting wasn't that good with my speed off and I sort of just lost concentration on the greens.
"So nothing went right and I was trying hard to birdie the last to try and break 80 but it just didn't quite happen." McIlroy arrived home in Northern Ireland having missed the cut in last week's Tour flagship event at Wentworth.
But while he was the defending champion last week, McIlroy's Irish Open record is poor having missed the cut the previous two years.
McIlroy first contested the Irish Open in 2005 as a then 16-year old and shooting a second round 81 to sit out the weekend rounds.
His opening Royal County Down round was a mix of five outward bogeys, including four in succession from his sixth hole, and four dropped shots over his inward nine.
"I have just got to go out there tomorrow (Friday) and try my best and try and claw my way back into inside the cut-off line and back into this tournament," he said.
"It's disappointing also for the large crowds out there who followed us around this morning as I wanted to play well not just for myself but all who were supporting us.
"I am not sure what score I am going to need to get into the weekend but I would love to be here for all four rounds.
"I hope my tournament is salvageable and that will be my goal starting off tomorrow and try to make some early birdies, and my first birdie of the tournament at some point."
American Rickie Fowler, who has returned to Royal County Down for a first time since being a member of the victorious USA Walker Cup team, carded a very respectable level par 71.
Only 13 players managed to break par while there are another dozen at level par including four-time Major winning Ernie Els.