If Rory McIlroy’s first day at the Memorial was brilliant, his second was almost equally as poor.
In a round which encapsulated how tough golf can be, three holes effectively eradicated all the good work he had done in setting his score of 63 on the first day of play in Ohio.
The Northern Irishman, who went into the tournament in fine form having won at Wentworth the week previous, carried his momentum into the opening day of action, but could not continue his sustained period of good form on the back-nine - shooting a score of 78.
He held an overnight lead after Thursday’s play and looked set to continue to head the tournament at the midway stage until he hit the 13th hole.
McIlroy had looked relatively solid, firing a score of one-under-par on the front-nine, which included two birdies. It meant he continued to establish his position at the top of the leaderboard and look the favourite to win the title.
However, despite a bogey on 10 and a birdie on 12, it was at the 13th when the drama really started with McIlroy’s round.
A double bogey six on the par four was a set-back that he never truly recovered from in one of the most notable collapses in recent times.
Two further double bogeys on the 14th and 15th meant he slipped back to five-over-par for the day, before a bogey on the last capped off his poor back-nine in fitting style.
It leaves McIlroy way back and a sizable amount of shots behind the current leader, fellow Brit Paul Casey.
And it left the 25-year-old with a realisation of just how tough this course can be, after his first round where he made going round the usually testing track look so easy.
"I missed fairways; that was the big thing,'' McIlroy said to reporters. "I didn't realize how thick the rough was until I got in it today. It's thick.
"I hit a decent drive on 10 (his first hole), was just in the rough, couldn't get to the green, made bogey there. And then I just kept missing fairways and making it tough for myself. And obviously that little three-hole stretch -- 13, 14, 15 -- didn't help. Take those three holes out of it, then it wouldn't actually have been that bad a day.
"These little runs I'm getting on where it gets away from me, I was able to avoid that last week. Not so much this week."
McIlroy’s form this season has been very good so it is impossible to write him off, but he has found a problem with finding consistency over four rounds.
One anomalous score has often cost him a shot at the title, but still not done enough damage to stop him finishing in a top ten place and that pattern looks set to continue this week.
McIlroy spoke of his desire to become the main-man in golf and, with Tiger Woods confirming has absence from the US Open this week, he has a good chance to do this but he must ensure that he doesn’t slip back into collecting a series of what he called ‘backdoor finishes’.
If he is to avoid that this week he will need to recreate his form over the first day over the weekend, rather than the erratic nature of today’s round.
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