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Poor run goes on for McIlroy in Florida flop

 

By Adam McKendry

Rory McIlroy's preparations for next month's Masters continue to falter as he missed his second cut in four events at the Valspar Championship in Florida.

However, Tiger Woods continues to answer the doubters on his comeback from injury as he carded his second consecutive under par round at the Copperhead course at Innisbrook.

The former World No.1 backed up his opening round of one under with an even more impressive three under 68 to propel him up the leaderboard.

However, for McIlroy, it's another tough week that has culminated in no weekend golf after he missed the halfway cut by two strokes at five over par.

The Ulsterman followed up an opening three over 74 on Thursday with a two over par round of 73 yesterday, making it the sixth consecutive round he has shot over par.

With the Masters rapidly approaching, and McIlroy scheduled to play in just two tournaments between then and now, the Holywood man needs a rapid upturn in form if he's to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta this year.

However, by this stage McIlroy would have been hoping his Masters preparations would be in full swing.

Instead, it’s a second missed cut in four events, and nothing about his performance suggests things are going to improve quickly.

It’s not hard to see where McIlroy’s troubles lie either. Although the putter continues to cause him no end of problems, it’s from the fairways his biggest issue stems.

Going back to that Major-winning stretch from 2011 to 2014, anytime McIlroy was within a wedge of the green you would have backed him to make up and down. Now the ability seems to have evaporated from his repertoire.

No more evident was that than on the 10th at the Copperhead course at Innisbrook. McIlroy, after obliterating a drive 341 yards down the fairway, left his 95-yard wedge shot woefully short of the pin and then failed to two-putt from the fringe.

Truth be told his problems began long before that, namely starting three-over after his first round, leaving him already bang on the eventual cut mark.

It all started promisingly enough, a birdie at the first offering some hope, but bogeys followed at the second, seventh and ninth for the World No.12 on a torrid front nine.

Not that the back nine provided much more evidence that things were turning in the right direction, birdies at the 11th and 14th cancelled out by dropped shots at 10 and 15.

By the time he tapped in on the 18th following a slick bunker save, there was little to cheer about.

By this stage McIlroy would like to be easing into his final preparations for Augusta. Based on his recent form, there are far too many questions still to answer before competing comes into the equation.

Compare that to Tiger Woods, who is answering every question his doubters throw at him.

Having opened with a one-under first round, the former World No.1 backed it up with an even more impressive three-under-par 68 to sit among the contenders.

Meanwhile, there was delight for Graeme McDowell who will play at the weekend after making the cut on the mark at three over.

Shane Lowry will join him having navigated his opening two rounds on one under, however both Padraig Harrington and Seamus Power exited early.

Other high-profile exits included Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson and Ian Poulter.

Belfast Telegraph

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