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Scottish Open: Latest early exit leaves Rory McIlroy full of frustration

 

By Phil Casey

A frustrated Rory McIlroy heads into next week's Open Championship on the back of a third missed cut in four events after his poor form continued in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.

McIlroy was hoping that memories of his last appearance in the event would kickstart his injury-hit season, the World No.4 finishing 14th at Royal Aberdeen in 2014 before going on to win The Open, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and US PGA in his next three starts.

However, the 28-year-old could only add a 71 to his opening 74 at Dundonald Links to finish one over par and admitted his birdie attempt on the 18th to have a chance of making the weekend was "terrible".

"I'm frustrated, but at the same time I saw some good signs out there," said the Ulsterman. "I thought my putting improved this week compared to last week. I hit some better wedges, but still room for improvement.

"It's hard to put my finger on it. But it's not like I'm shooting 76s and 77s. It's all around even par, but even par these days isn't good enough.

"I'm just waiting for some sort of spark, something to go right, and the last couple of weeks haven't been like that. I've just got to keep plugging away and hopefully it turns around next week.

"I haven't had enough competitive rounds this year. With the (rib) injury I've missed a lot of events. It's tough. I've sort of been playing catch-up all year.

"I'll probably head down to Birkdale early and get some practice rounds in to get myself ready for the test.

"I'm more than capable of going down there and shooting a couple of even pars or shooting something in the 60s and getting myself into contention."

McIlroy followed a missed cut in the US Open with a tie for 17th in the Travelers Championship, but then made an early exit from the Irish Open at Portstewart, where he was the defending champion.

The four-time Major winner had not missed successive cuts since May 2015 and was inside the projected cut after covering the front nine in 33, but needed two attempts to escape a greenside bunker on the 13th to double-bogey the par four for the second day running.

"There's so much sand in that bunker I told myself, 'You've got to hit this hard' and I couldn't hit it any harder," McIlroy added.

"I played the front nine this week in five under par, so it's not that far away. I'm missing cuts but I'm just on the wrong side of doing something quite good."

Meanwhile, a relaxed Padraig Harrington does not believe a fourth Major title would alter his golfing legacy, but concedes a third Open victory next week might lead to a change of heart.

The prospects of that happening shortened after the 45-year-old claimed a share of the halfway lead in Scotland.

Harrington swapped the drama of his opening 67 for a "boring" and bogey-free 68 to finish nine under par, a total matched by England's Callum Shinkwin and Germany's Alexander Knappe.

"Anything that comes my way from here would be a bonus," said Harrington. "I will win tournaments, that's for sure, but I'm not turning up trying to change my legacy. I've pretty much done what I've done.

"I'd love to win another Major and if I did win next week I'd tell you why it does make a difference! But at the moment, I found myself in a better place by deflecting a little in that sense."

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