Rory McIlroy suffers shocking back nine at Travelers Championship

Playing his fourth tournament in four weeks, McIlroy was still going to struggle with fatigue. He also has a cold and said he was not comfortable with his fairway woods. Still, after a first-round 62, he was still on top Friday, 5 under through 11 holes and leading at 13 under.

Then everything went wrong.

McIlroy hooked his tee shot out of bounds left on the No. 12. After a penalty and hitting three from the start, he blew his next effort into the right fescue, advanced his fourth shot into the greenside bunker, barely got his ball out of the sand, and took three to get down from there for an 8.

It was McIlroy’s sixth career quad, and first since the 2021 PLAYERS Championship.

“You know, when you hit a tee shot like in 12, the first one, the second one is pretty tough,” he said, “and you’re kind of protecting yourself against the left and I missed on the right.”

He again used a fairway wood on the 271-yard 15th hole, which also caused problems. His tee shot would stand on the fescue-covered hill to the right of the green, and while he seemed to have averted disaster when his second shot fell just short of the green, he swept his third onto the green and into the water. He took a drop, chipped and went an 11-footer to save the double.

It was a bizarre streak for one of the best players in the world, but McIlroy chose to focus on the positives: seven birdies, his blistering start to the round and the 36 holes remaining in the tournament.

“For some reason I haven’t been comfortable with my fairway woods for the past two weeks,” he said. “You know, I just hit three cowards there, two out of 12, then the one out of 15. That was really it. I played the rest of the course well. Obviously got off to that good start.

“I think I came back well,” he added. “I made a good putt for 6 of 15 and then I birdie 16. Yeah, I should be closer to the lead. I feel like I let a lot of guys in the tournament golf because of it. But, you know, it’s still only two rounds. There’s two rounds left and a lot of golf to go.

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