Rory McIlroy shot an opening round of 74 to leave him nine shots off the lead during the first event of the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup play-offs.
The world number one was looking for his fourth consecutive victory after winning the Open, Bridgestone Invitational and the US PGA Championship but endured a nightmare front nine of 40. The 25-year old improved on the back nine, carding two birdies leaving him at three-over after his 18 holes.
The Northern Irishman only managed to hit seven out of 14 fairways during his round, although most of those successful drives came on the back nine at the Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.
Things could have been worse for McIlroy had he not finished his round by holing a 30-foot birdie putt, which followed a bogey on the previous hole after he missed the green and then a six-foot putt.
A double-bogey six at the 12th got his round off to a bad start, with a bogey on the following hole leaving him at three-over after just four holes.
Another bogey at the 18th saw McIlroy reach the turn in 40 but he managed his first birdie of the day on the fifth, his 14th hole.
McIlroy has appeared to be enjoying his recent success after appearing on late-night US television with Tiger Woods this week and attending Manchester United's opening Premier League match with Swansea.
Lack of preparation
McIlroy admits that the disappointing opening round is down to his lack of preparation ahead of the event.
"I think it's more to do with just not putting the adequate time into my game over the past week for obvious reasons," he said.
"I guess taking a week off and sort of getting back into it this week, I probably just needed to give myself a little bit more time. But I wasn't going to do that. I was enjoying myself."
McIlroy had led the FedEx Cup standings coming into the tournament, closely followed by Jimmy Walker, Tom Watson, Matt Kuchar and Jim Furyk.
This opening round will have certainly bring McIlroy back down to earth with a bump following his recent performances and it will important that he recovers from this disappointing round with a good second.
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