Rory McIlroy may have been the man that most people wanted to see at this week's Irish Open, but that did not guarantee his participation in the final two rounds. The man from Holywood failed to make up sufficient ground on the rest of field to survive the cut. Instead the likeable Irishman will have to lick his wounds and re-group ahead of the upcoming US Open. On another challenging day at Royal County Down, no fewer than six players led the event after day two including British interest in the form of Richie Ramsay, Chris Wood and Tyrrell Hatton.
Too much ground to make up
McIlroy's 80 on day one had always seemed likely to give him too much of a handicap to challenge for the title itself, but there would have been many hoping that he could at least salvage something from the event. Sadly, with the weather conditions not aiding a possible recovery on the scoreboard, his improved round of 71 proved insufficient to repair the damage and he finished on 9-over par.
Despite clearly applying himself to the task at hand in his opening holes, his hopes were finally extinguished with a frustrating double-bogey on the 15th hole. In a severe case of déjà vu, it was the third successive time he had missed the halfway cut at the Irish Open, demonstrating that the luck of the Irish is not always with him. In a rare run of bad form, it backed up his failure to make the final 36 holes at Wentworth last weekend as well. By contrast, he had been in sparkling form across the 'pond' prior to his trip back to Europe, so the 26-year-old will hope that once back on American soil his form returns.
Sadly, it also means that his charity will not benefit as much as hoped from his exertions this week, with all of his prize money being donated to his 'Rory Foundation' in aid of children's charities around the world.
Others benefitted though
His absence opens the way for others to benefit though at the Irish Open. Among those to do so on day two was the Englishman Hatton. At just 23 years of age he equalled the course record with a marvellous round of 66, matching the feat of Jimmy Bruen back in 1939. He shared the overnight lead with Wood, Ramsay, Dane Soren Kjeldsen, Spain's Rafa Cabrera-Bello and the Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.
Joint overnight leader after day one, Padraig Harrington slipped back to one shot off the lead, where he was joined by England's Luke Donald.
No luck for the Northern Irish
It has been a generally unhappy event for the Northern Ireland players so far, with the stellar names of Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell some way back on 5-over par for the tournament. #GolfAnother surprise absentee from the weekend's action will be the Spaniard Sergio Garcia, who fared even worse than his Ryder Cup compatriots with a 12-over score for his first 36 holes.