HIGH-FLYING Rory McIlroy was brought crashing back to earth when his defence of the BMW PGA Championship ended in an early exit at Wentworth.
A few days after cementing his world No 1 spot with a seven-shot success in the Wells Fargo Championship on the PGA Tour in Charlotte, the 26-year-old missed the cut in the European Tour’s flagship event.
A second-round 78 – his worst score since signing for the same total in last year’s Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen – left McIlroy on five-over and heading home to Northern Ireland instead of trying to catch halfway leader Francesco Molinari in the final two rounds in Surrey, where he’d come from seven behind to win 12 months ago.
The upside is that it will allow the four-times major winner to get some much-needed rest before hosting the Irish Open, starting at Royal County Down next Thursday – his fifth event in five weeks.
“I’m not angry,” he insisted. “A little disappointed I’m not going to be here for the weekend, but I’m coming off the back of three good weeks in the States and I’m probably in need of a little bit of a rest. I’d still rather be here, but it’s not all bad getting to go home for the weekend.”
It’s only the third missed cut that McIlroy has suffered in 45 events and two of his last three tournaments have produced victories, having also claimed the WGC-Cadillac Match Play in San Francisco before his runawaytriumph last weekend.
“Any time you’re defending a title, you want to come back and give it a valiant effort,” he added. “This week wasn’t really that but I’ll just dust myself off and get ready for the Irish Open. It was inevitable at some point that the run was going to come to an end.”
McIlroy’s early exit came on the day that incoming European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley made his first visit to an event since getting the post.