Double major winner McIlroy stumbles in New Jersey

Have your say

Rory McIlroy endured a nightmare start to his attempt to make it four wins in a row as he reached the turn in four-over 40 before picking up a shot on the way back in the first round at The Barclays.

The world No 1 went into the first leg of the four-tournament FedEx Cup play-offs as a hot favourite following victories at the Open Championship, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and 
US PGA Championship.

But his form deserted him during the early stages at Ridgewood Country Club, New Jersey, as he registered a double-bogey on the 12th, his third hole, and followed that with bogeys on the 13th and 18th to leave him last of all players on the course at the time.

All of that came after he was inches away from a birdie on the par-three 10th, his first hole of the day. He pulled a shot back on the par-four fifth, but gave it back on the eighth, missing a four-foot putt to bogey.

He recovered to birdie the ninth, his final hole of the day, finishing with a three-over round of 74 and was at least off the bottom of the leaderboard.

But it meant the Northern Irishman was eight shots adrift of the early clubhouse lead of five under held by Cameron Tringale, Hunter Mahan and Charles Howell III.

Defending FedEx Cup champion Henrik Stenson was among the afternoon starters as were European Ryder Cup hopefuls Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood.

The top 125 players in the standings have qualified for The Barclays, with the field being trimmed to 100 for the Deutsche Bank Championship, 70 for the BMW Championship and then 30 for the Tour Championship with the man finishing top of the standings claiming a $10m bonus.

Jamie Donaldson moved a step closer to making the European Ryder Cup team with a sparkling 66 in the first round of the D+D REAL Czech Masters.

The Welshman currently holds the eighth of nine automatic places for the team in Gleneagles due to his position on the world points list, but a combined winning haul of just under 30,000 euros (£24,000) in the Czech Republic and in Italy next week would see him qualify via the European list.

A six-under par round in Prague yesterday gave the 38-year-old a one-shot lead in a tournament which carries a 166,660 euro (£128,000) first prize.

Stephen Gallacher is also chasing down a Ryder Cup spot and fired a two-under par 70.

There was a 10-way tie for third place which included Sheffield’s Danny Willett.

Harrogate’s John Parry shot 72, two better than Malton’s 
Simon Dyson and Chris Hanson, of Huddersfield, and three ahead of Hull’s Richard Finch.