McIlroys pre-Masters plans gone with the wind in Texas

Bernie McGuire
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Rory McIlroy - Getty Images

Rory McIlroy had the wind taken out of a pre-tournament plan to find much-needed tournament form in missing the cut at the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio.

It is the first time this new season McIlroy will not play all four days and also remembering he scrambled hard to only just make the cut in his last event at the Players Championship.

The winds gusting upwards of 30 kph played havoc with McIlroy and others out in the afternoon half of the draw in the 100th anniversary of the PGA Tour’s third oldest tournament in The Alamo City.

Though in saying that those who made the biggest move were the players teeing up post-lunch on the Greg Norman-designed course.

Ryan Palmer heads the field and dealing with the afternoon conditions the best in posting a 66 to move two shots clear at 10-under par from fellow three players tied in second place on eight-under.

They include 2017 champ, Kevin Chappell who was out in the opening half of the draw to sign for a 65 along with Matt Kuchar, and playing his 500th Tour event, who had a 69 while South African Darren Fritelli, and with a 66, is also sharing second.

Palmer’s last Tour win was in 2019 and as he also seeks an Augusta return by securing the last invitation.

“It’s a golf course, if you get it offline, you’re going to struggle”, said Palmer.  “I was able to keep the ball in front of me and when I missed fairways, I’ve gotten fortunate breaks.  So the weekend, it’s a matter of just avoiding those big misses.”

Former Irish Open winner Russell Knox struggled in the afternoon posting a four-over 76 to drop well back into a tie for 27th at three-under.

McIlroy was out just after 1 pm local time (7 pm Irish) lying at level par and then eight shots behind Chappell, and with the 2017 champ posting a 65 to be the then clubhouse leader on eight-under.

McIlroy, and as had he done a day earlier, bogeyed his second hole to drop 18 spots on the board and back to a tie for 90th

There was another sign it may not be McIlroy’s day, sending a brilliant 367-yard too shot to just right of the green at the short par-4, fifth hole, and just 50-feet from the flag.

McIlroy’s chip shot hit the flagstick but rolled seven-foot past the hole from where he missed his birdie putt for a par.  His shake of the head, in leaving the green, said it all.

He made the turn at one-over with eight pars and the bogey on the fifth, and to be now sharing 88th place and two places outside the expected one-under-par cut-off mark.

McIlroy headed for home with back-to-back pars at his 10th and 11th holes but it was more disappointment in finding trees well left at the par-4 12th and with no option but to chip out sideways.  He left his third shot short, chipped and two-putted for the second bogey of his round.

He then produced four pars in succession before the only bright spot for him over the round and that being a tap-in birdie at the par-4 17th ahead of a closing par in his round of 73 to miss the one-under cut-off mark.

Disappointingly, Graeme McDowell continued to struggle with scores of 74 and 75 for a five-over total. On a brighter note, England’s Richard Bland added a gutsy 71 to move to three-under par and tied in 27th place, as he seeks to secure the last invitation into the Masters.

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