Rory McIlroy’s hopes of winning the Masters and completing the career grand slam lay in tatters after he crashed to an opening 75 at a soggy Augusta National - his worst start in 12 appearances.
The four-time major winner was under pressure when he resumed his weather-delayed first round seven shots off the lead on level par and facing a tricky greenside bunker shot at the 10th.
But rather than cutting the gap on a nine he’s played better than anyone over the last five years, he knocked it nine feet past and missed the par putt, recording the first of five back nine bogeys that not only left him ten shots behind playing partner Dustin Johnson, South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli and England’s Paul Casey on three-over par but also tied for 78th, four shots outside the projected cut mark.
McIlroy did well not to bogey the 11th, eventually knocking in an eight footer for par after wiping his approach right of the green.
He had a chance to birdie the short 12th but charged his 15 footer five feet past, then made a disastrous six at the par-five 13th that brought back memories of his 2011 Sunday meltdown.
A hooked drive miles left of Rae’s Creek forced him to reload and while he found the original ball and chipped back to the fairway after a penalty drop, his fourth came up 18 feet short from 133 yards and he walked off with another bogey.
Another tee shot left at the 14th led to another bogey as he overshot the green escaping from the trees and pitched 10 feet past the hole before watching a good putt lip out for par.
At three-over, he was tied for 77th but after two putting for a birdie at the par-five 15th, he hooked his tee shot into the pond at the 16th and cried, “that’s so bad, oh my god,” before getting up and down from 113 yards for a bogey by holing an 18 footer.
He had to work hard not to drop another shot at the 17th, leaving his 45 foot approach putt eight feet short before knocking in the next one for par.
But even though he parred the last, his 75 was one shot worse than his opening 74 in 2010.
South African Frittelli and world No 1 Johnson shot a seven-under 65s to tie for the lead with Paul Casey, one shot ahead of Justin Thomas.
Mallow amateur James Sugrue racked up four three putts over the 18 holes as he mixed a birdie at the second with bogeys at the first and sixth to open with a five-over 77 that left him tied 83rd, eight shots behind leading amateur John Augenstein.
All four Irish players are outside the projected one-under par cut mark for the top 50 and ties with Graeme McDowell tied 53rd after a 72 and Shane Lowry joint 70th after his 74.