Rory McIlroy needs a miracle to avoid missing the cut at the 2013 Open Championship.
After one round of action, the Northern Irishman and former No. 1 player in the world is in serious trouble, and he's not the only star who is in danger of missing the cut on Friday.
Muirfield is playing extremely fast and unforgiving thus far, and the course will only dry out more throughout the weekend. Pin-point accuracy is needed to shoot low scores, as the margin for error is razor thin.
Unfortunately, these players aren't playing with razor-like precision.
With the leaders well under par after Round 1, these stars must conjure up some birdies on Friday and shoot low to give themselves a chance of sticking around to play during the weekend.
Rory McIlroy (+8)
Casual golf fans may be surprised to see McIlroy near the bottom of the standings after Round 1. However, those who have been paying close attention to the sport know that his struggles have been going on for some time now.
Leading up to the British Open, McIlroy wasn't comfortable with his game in the least. After a poor showing in the first round of the Irish Open a few weeks ago, McIlroy told reporters, "I feel a bit lost right now," as noted by Alistair Tait of GolfWeek.com.
Instead of playing another tournament in preparation for The Open Championship, the young man was testing out new drivers, as Tait noted in his report.
The early returns on his investment of time and effort were not promising. McIlroy hit just five fairways on Thursday (35.71 percent of FIR), and posted a dismal score of eight-over par. While watching him struggle, Dan Jenkins of GolfDigest.com quipped about a new job title:
He did manage two birdies on the round, but his two double-bogeys more than cancelled them out.
Even if he shoots a 63 on Friday, McIlroy will still be at even par for the tournament. Chances are, he's going to take an early exit from Muirfield after the second round.
Luke Donald (+9)
Donald has come close to winning the British Open a couple of times, posting fifth-place finishes in 2009 and 2012. He also played extremely well at the 2013 U.S. Open, finishing in eighth place.
Currently the No. 9 player in the world, Donald isn't as much of a "star" as McIlroy, but he's a player we've grown accustomed to as a contender in most major championships.
After a disastrous first round at Muirfield on Thursday, however, Donald is in serious peril of missing the weekend.
In every facet of his game, Donald is struggling at Muirfield. Hitting just 50 percent of fairways and 57.1 percent of greens in regulation, he put himself in poor spots all day long on Thursday. Then, when on the greens, Donald labored to get the ball in the hole, averaging 3.4 putts per green in regulation.
As noted by Jenkins, he tied his worst career single-round score in an Open, and he'll have his work cut out for him if he has any hope of playing this weekend:
Justin Rose (+4)
Winner of this year's U.S. Open, Rose needs a big bounce-back performance on Friday after posting an opening-round score of 75—four-over par.
While many of the world's best featured entertaining scorecards—with just as many bogeys as birdies—Rose's first round consisted mostly of poor play, as he managed just one birdie on Thursday.
Interestingly enough, Rose's struggles didn't occur because of poor tee shots, as he hit 78.57 percent of his fairways in Round 1.
Instead, Rose—normally a brilliant ball-striker—struggled to get his approach shots dialed in. He hit 66.67 percent of greens in regulation and only managed two one-putts on the day.
One might think such a performance would dampen Rose's spirits, but he still found a way to make time for his fans after his round, as shown by Nate Gotlieb, an intern with the St. Cloud Times:
While shooting a 75 won't doom him to failure, Rose must now find a way to bounce back and put together a sharp second round to avoid missing the cut on Friday.
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