Rory McIlroy remains upbeat as great run finally comes to end
A man's gotta know his limitations, advised Clint Eastwood in the role of "Dirty Harry" Callaghan, Hollywood bad cop extraordinaire.
We were beginning to think Rory McIlroy did not have any until he finally ran out of bullets at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Playing his fourth consecutive event, the world's number one golfer missed the cut by a whopping four shots.
A round of 78 was fair comment on the standard reached, his worst round since the last episode of "freaky Friday" at the Scottish Open a year ago.
At least he can put the sticks away for the weekend before he goes again at the Irish Open at Royal County Down next week.
If Wentworth was an event too far, you can only imagine how taxing it might be on home turf at a tournament hosted by his own charitable foundation.
"Plane to catch," were his last words on leaving Wentworth two days ahead of schedule.
He must have had it on standby. It was clear from the opening tee shot, wide and right, that this would not be his day.
McIlroy was in the bunker off the tee at the third and left his ball in there en route to his first bogey of the day.
The sand was also a magnet to his ball at the sixth, with the same result.
A missed putt from short range for bogey at the 10th seemed to suck what life remained from his game. It would get worse at the next where McIlroy was forced to play three off the tee, so far left was his first effort. At that point he appeared more likely to shoot 80 than make the cut.
A double bogey at 11 was followed by further dropped shots at 13, 16 and the last, not even a late cameo to give the crowd something to remember him by this weekend.
"I'm not angry," he said. "A little disappointed I'm not going to be here for the weekend, but if there was any weekend to miss, coming off the back of three good weeks in the States, then it was this.
"I'm probably in need of a little bit of a rest. As I said, I'd still rather be here but it's not all bad getting to go home for the weekend. I'm not going to read too much into it.
"It was inevitable at some point that the run was going to come to an end. I'm sort of back to my usual at Wentworth. It wasn't great before I won last year and it hasn't been great after.
"I was trying to muster up a few birdies coming down the back nine, I just couldn't really get anything going."
At least McIlroy's absence leaves the stage for another to claim. Perhaps Luke Donald will overcome his dislike of the greens to win for a third time in five years. He could do with it. Victory would gain him automatic entry into both the US Open next month and the Open Championship at St Andrews.
A second successive 70 left Donald in a tie for 10th on four under par, six behind leader Francesco Molinari (below).
He would doubtless feel better about the place should he triumph, but at the halfway stage he was not holding back.
"They have gotten worse each year since they re-did them," Donald said.
"They were really good for a couple of years, but unfortunately the poa annua (grass) has come back. They don't look very good on TV.
"They putt OK, but there are a few putts out there that don't stay on the line you hit them. If there was one championship when the greens should be pristine then this is it.
"This our biggest event, our flagship event and they don't putt as good as they should.
"I think the only way to fix them is to redo them again. I'm not sure what the problem has been, because there are other courses in this area with good greens. Maybe because it has so much traffic and so much poa annua is brought in on spikes. I don't know.
"I don't want to criticise the green staff, as the rest of the course is pristine.
"I just think it's a shame the greens aren't quite as good as they should be for a tournament of this size."
Graeme McDowell is one over par after a second round 71.