RORY McILROY got what he wanted — after saying he wished his game was worse than it has been recently.
It sunk to a new low as he made a disastrous start to his title defence at the Players Championship, shooting a seven-over-par 79.
To make matters worse, playing partner Sergio Garcia played the course in FOURTEEN shots less than McIlroy.
The Spaniard finished birdie-birdie-eagle to post a seven-under 65, which gave him the early lead at Sawgrass.
McIlroy started on the tenth and opened with a double bogey after carving his tee shot into an unplayable lie.
And at the 18th he put two balls in the water to run up a quadruple bogey eight.
He also hit two balls in the water on the same hole at Bay Hill last week but escaped with a double bogey.
So yes, this was worse — better be careful what you wish for Rory!
His pre-tournament reasoning was that it is easier to find a solution to rank bad golf than the inconsistency that has plagued him since his last victory 16 months ago.
McIlroy steadied the sinking ship by mixing three birdies with three bogeys on his second nine — although a three-putt six on the long ninth meant he still walked off shaking his head in disgust.
The Northern Irishman, 31, said: “On 18 I just hit a drive that started ten yards left of where I was aiming. And after taking my drop I did the same thing with the four iron.
“It’s so hard to recover from that, especially when you’re trying to figure it out as you go along on course.
“The big number on 18 didn’t help but then doubling the first wasn’t helpful either.
“I think it’s hard to recover when you just haven’t played good. Even if you take that 18th hole out of the equation, it still wasn’t a very good day.”
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Maybe McIlroy should consult another former world No 1, Lee Westwood, about the key to consistent golf.
The Worksop ace followed his runner-up finish to Bryson DeChambeau at Bay Hill last week by posting an impressive 69, on a day when more big names were finding the going tough — with Henrik Stenson crashing to an 85.
Westy, 47, said: “I built a lot of confidence last week and this is a place where I’ve played well before.”
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