By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 14/06/18 8:01pm
Rory McIlroy looks set to miss the cut at the US Open for the third consecutive year after failing to break 80 in his opening round at Shinnecock Hills.
The tough layout and breezy conditions took their toll on the majority of the field, with the high-profile grouping of McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson a combined 25 over par for their first rounds.
But it was McIlroy who fared the worst of the trio, firing an 80 for the third time in a major and the first time on day one, and he now faces a tough task to make it to the weekend for the first time since 2015.
McIlroy looked composed and confident as he split the 10th fairway with his opening tee shot and clipped a good second to seven feet, although he missed the chance for birdie and then bogeyed the next two holes to give an indication of his troubles to come.
The 29-year-old came up short with his approach to the 13th and, after splashing out to 30 feet, he three-putted to walk off with a six which he repeated at the 14th, when he pushed his drive into the fescue and needed two attempts to hack his ball back into play.
He did manage to hole from 12 feet for the first birdie of his group at the 15th, but McIlroy gave the shot straight back at 16 when he pulled his drive left, gouged his second into a fairway trap and thinned his third into the lip of the bunker, eventually leading to another bogey.
McIlroy’s tee shot to 17 was so far right it missed the greenside bunker, but he gave himself a lift with a delightful flop-shot to 10 feet before rattling in the putt for par.
However, he continued to find trouble in the thick fescue and dropped another shot at 18 before scrapping his way down the first, pulling his approach left and dumping his third from a poor lie into a bunker.
He would walk off with his third double-bogey of the round, and his shoulders sagged further at the next when he blocked his tee shot right and again failed to get up and down.
McIlroy managed to stop the rot with a scrambled par at the third, playing the toughest hole on the course, and he took steps towards recovery with a good pitch and putt for birdie at the fifth before nailing a 25-foot putt for another at the sixth.
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But he missed the seventh green long and left and lipped out from four feet to drop back to nine over, and the 2011 champion looked a forlorn figure on his final hole as he needed three putts to get down from the back of the green.