For Rory McIlroy, it was a death by a thousand bogeys on Thursday at Royal County Down -- or, at least, it must have felt that way.
The world No. 1 and tournament host at the Irish Open shot 9-over 80 for his highest round since a final-round 80 in the 2011 Masters.
McIlroy didn't make a single birdie on the round, but he also didn't have a blow-up hole that ballooned his score in very windy conditions in Northern Ireland. He bogeyed half his holes, made pars on the other nine. McIlroy had to make an 8-footer at the last to save par and shoot 80.
This is the second consecutive shocking round from McIlroy, who shot 78 in Round 2 of last week's BMW PGA Championship to miss the cut. His two-round total of 158 to straddle the two events is McIlroy's highest since shooting 80-78 to miss the cut as a 16-year-old in the 2005 British Masters. Then again, this if the fifth consecutive week McIlroy has played, starting in San Francisco for the WGC-Cadillac Match Play. He has flown some 7,000 miles in that stretch, winning twice and, barring some stunning Friday improvement, missing the cut twice.
Playing with reigning U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer and Players champion Rickie Fowler, McIlroy and the German played in a combined 17 over par, not making a single birdie. Fowler, who finished top five in all four majors last year, managed an impressive even-par 71.