Rory McIlroy crashed out of the PGA Championship at Wentworth on Friday and could lose his status as world No. 1 by the end of the tournament.
When McIlroy finally holed out for a 79, seven-over par and a two-round total of 153, nine-over par, he was eight shots off the projected cut mark of one over.
This is the second time he has failed to make the weekend recently, after flopping at the Players’ Championship at Sawgrass a fortnight ago.
The confidence ebbed away from McIlroy as he shipped shots consistently through the second round, less than three weeks away from his defense of the US Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.
However, McIlroy has vowed to get straight on the range to get his game straight for the season’s second major.
“I will have to go and work really hard to get my game back to the level it was before the Masters,” he said. “I have been putting the work in, it is just being more specific. I will go and chat to my team and make sure I am ready for the next few weeks. It is just putting the time in on the range and hitting a lot of balls.”
It is only the second time in his professional career that McIlroy has missed two cuts on the spin. The previous occasion came in 2010, when he missed out at the Houston Open and the Masters.
World No. 2 Luke Donald was sitting pretty in the clubhouse after getting to halfway on 136, eight-under par, and was in second place, along with Scotland’s David Drysdale, four shots behind leader James Morrison.
With McIlroy out of the equation, Donald needs to finish eighth on his own or better today to reclaim his spot at the top of the rankings.
Twenty-three-year old McIlroy was up against it after a first round 74 had left him fighting for his life and he was not helped by the wind that strengthened on the West Course in the afternoon.
He had four bogeys and a double bogey on his card by the time he got to the turn, dropped two more shots and then his drive on the par-5 12th went into trees.
McIlroy slipped to a bogey six there and another at the 13th took him to seven-over for the tournament. The misery continued with a double bogey at the 15th and he could not get into the clubhouse quickly enough.
Ahead of this event McIlroy claimed he was comfortable with the No. 1 status, but he was involved in a club-throwing episode on the first day and his body language betrayed his frustrations in the second round.
On Wednesday McIlroy had told reporters that he believed his US Open at Congressional last June had made him believe he belonged in the elite.
“You have to believe that you’re the best and certainly I do,” he said. “On my day, I believe I can beat anyone in the world. I started thinking of myself as one of the elite players. There’s a big difference between having the potential to be the best in the world and actually thinking you are the best. It’s hard to walk around saying: ‘I’m the best.’ But you just have to believe in it and be quietly confident.”
The world No. 1 ranking has changed five times in the last two months, with McIlroy being at the top since coming second in the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow three weeks ago.
It looks likely to change again with Donald, the defending champion, poised for a high finish in the European Tour’s premier event.