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Pic of the week: Downer... Rory struggles on home soil

By Helen Carson

Rory McIlroy looked downcast when he got off to a bad start in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, hosted by the Rory Foundation at Royal County Down - his body language saying it all, head down and shoulders slumped, he is a picture of bitter disappointment.

And it was a sign of things to come for the world's number one golfer, who fought to find his form on the Newcastle links course, which was littered with a lot of frustrating episodes for him.

The big-hearted Holywood man had promised to donate the six-figure winning prize pot to his charity, which helps families affected by cancer, but his bad run on Thursday put paid to victory and that generous donation.

Rory went out in just 34 shots and was left facing a battle to make the cut. He parred the 17th yesterday, driving the ball into a gorse bush on the last.

This followed a missed birdie putt in an attempt to get both dropped shots back at the 16th hole, chipping to within five feet after a big drive.

His uncharacteristic inability to shine on the fairway from the beginning left the 26-year-old with an uphill battle to make the cut after carding a nightmare nine-over-par 80 in the first round.

McIlroy was repeatedly erratic with his iron play and struggled with the putter throughout.

The Northern Irishman has won two of his last four tournaments - the WGC-Cadillac Match Play and Wells Fargo tournament at Quail Hollow - but missed the cut at last week's PGA Championship at Wentworth

"I was caught between trying to play two ways. My poor iron play led to missed greens and I left myself a lot of eight to 12ft putts for par, pretty much all of which I missed," said McIlroy after his first round.

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