McIlroy misses UBS Hong Kong Open cut after believing he would contend

Rory McIlroy at the UBS Hong Kong Open
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After starting on the back nine Friday, Rory McIlroy had four bogeys and a double bogey in the final six holes of his title defense at the UBS Hong Kong Open.
By
Bernie McGuire
Associated Press

Series: European Tour

HONG KONG -- Top-ranked Rory McIlroy double bogeyed his last hole Friday to be assured of missing the cut in his defense of the UBS Hong Kong Open. McIlroy shot a disappointing 2-over par 72 to sit 5 over after two rounds in warm but windy conditions at Hong Kong Golf Club.

"It's disappointing, you never want to miss the cut and even more when you are defending a tournament," he said. "So it's not the week I wanted but then I have a few days to work on my putting and try and get ready for [next week's season-ending event in] Dubai."

McIlroy said he started the round believing he could play himself into contention after finishing the first round nine shots behind Spaniard Javier Colomo.

"I was 4 under par for my first 10 holes and only four off the lead ... and thought if I made a couple more birdies I would be right back into contention, but it went the other way," he said.

After starting on the back nine, McIlroy dropped shots on the fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth holes before conceding a double bogey from the middle of the fairway at the par-4 10th he was playing as his last.

"I still love this golf course and always enjoy coming back, and it's just a pity this year had to end like that," he said.

It is the second time in his career that McIlroy has missed the cut in the defense of a tournament, the other coming at this year's U.S. Open in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, second-round leader Michael Campbell says it will be easier for him to end a seven-year winless drought with McIlroy out.

The 43-year-old Campbell holed a 10-foot birdie at the last for a 6-under 64 that gave him a one-stroke lead at 9 under.

Four other 40-somethings followed Campbell on the leaderboard. Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain, 48, posted a 67 to share second with Zhang Lian-wei of China, 47, and Fredrik Andersson Hed of Sweden, 40, who both shot 66.

And 42-year-old Anders Hansen of Denmark matched Campbell's 64 to sit fifth at 7 under.

Campbell denied Tiger Woods the 2005 U.S. Open title at Pinehurst, and hasn't tasted success since winning the Volvo World Match Play Championship at Wentworth four months later.

He was surprised to learn McIlroy missed the cut.

"It now makes winning the Hong Kong Open a lot easier, definitely," Campbell said. "But then Rory's world No. 1 for a reason as he's a wonderful talent and I've admired him ever since he turned pro."

The New Zealander was third in the Portugal Masters a month ago, his best result in years. He confessed there were occasions since his last win, after which he became distracted by off-course events, that he considered quitting golf. But he gained inspiration from the winning efforts of fellow 40-somethings.

"You can't buy confidence, you just have to earn it, and I think I've earned it over the last seven years since I haven't won a golf tournament," Campbell said.

"There have been times where I wanted to throw it in, but what's really inspired me over the last, particularly over the last four or five years, is seeing my friends around the same age bracket as me, the 40-plus club.

"The likes of Ernie (Els) winning his fourth major, Thomas Bjorn winning three times last year. Paul Lawrie's had a wonderful last couple of years. Padraig Harrington, he's 40 now. Jim Furyk winning the FedExCup. And the list goes on.

"So being 40 isn't that bad playing golf, and seeing my friends win tournaments left, right and center definitely inspired me to don't give up and keep on playing."