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Rory McIlroy plays his shot from the 13th tee during the second round of The Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy plays his shot from the 13th tee during the second round of The Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy plays his shot from the 13th tee during the second round of The Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy’s Masters build-up suffered a setback in Los Angeles where his record streak ended with a first missed cut in almost two years.

The Irishman never looked like qualifying for the final two rounds of the Genesis Open, as he struggled to a 76 for a desultory seven-over total. McIlroy, 31, was miles off the mark, leaving a tournament prematurely for the first time since the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush.

Up until this demise, McIlroy’s 30 consecutive weekends had been the longest active run on the two main men's tours.

The consolation for falling short so emphatically was that McIlroy did not have to wait around and could immediately exit the gates at Riviera Country Club on to Sunset Boulevard and to the airport for a private jet back to his Florida home.

McIlroy will be deeply frustrated, however. After finishing third in his opening event of the year - the Abu Dhabi Championship - he was confident that he had left behind the mediocre form that has dogged him since the golf resumed from the lockdown last June.

This error-strewn display - featuring eight bogeys and a double-bogey in his 36 holes - came on the back on a tie for 13th and a tie for 16th in his first two PGA Tour events of 2021, and although it is hardly panic stations, McIlroy will be eager to put himself back on track at the WGC Workday Championship, a three-hour drive west of his Jupiter base, that starts on Thursday.

McIlroy is also due to play in the following week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando and then, in the final week of the “Florida Swing”, at The Players Championship, where he will attempt to become the first player in history to retain the Tour’s flagship title. With the World Match Play in Austin also to come, McIlroy has plenty of competitive action to fix the wrongs, before arriving at Augusta in seven weeks’ time for yet another shot at completing the career grand slam.

McIlroy’s tournament was essentially over when he stepped on to the par-four eighth, his penultimate hole, and, by then, he was likely figuring out his travel schedule. But the six on the par-four summed up what must be classed as his worst show in a long time.

He pulled his drive, but only had 90 yards to the pin. From an iffy lie, he came up short of the green. McIlroy “fatted” his third and saw it roll back down the hill. He chipped to eight feet with his fourth but could not rescue a bogey. Sloppy in the extreme.

At the other end of the leaderboard, the first-round leader, American Sam Burns, shot a 66 to move to 12-under and into a five-shot lead over a group in second including world No 1 Dustin Johnson.

And having finished fourth and third in the previous two weeks, Jordan Spieth is threatening another charge for his first title in almost four years carding a second successive 68 to move to six-under.

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Telegraph.co.uk


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