Bad start for in-form McIlroy

Rory McIlroy endured a nightmare start to his bid to make it four wins in a row as he reached the turn in a four-over 40 before picking up a shot on the way back in the first round at The Barclays.

Rory McIlroy endured a nightmare start to his bid to make it four wins in a row as he reached the turn in a four-over 40 before picking up a shot on the way back in the first round at The Barclays.

The world number one came into the first leg of the four-tournament FedEx Cup play-offs as a hot favourite following victories at the Open Championship, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and US PGA Championship.

But his form deserted him during the early stages at Ridgewood Country Club as he registered a double-bogey on the 12th, his third hole, and followed that with bogeys on the 13th and 18th to leave him last of all players on the course at the time.

All of that came after he was inches away from a birdie on the par-three 10th, his first hole of the day.

He pulled a shot back on the par-four fifth but gave it back on the eighth, missing a four-foot putt to bogey.

He recovered to birdie the ninth, his final hole of the day, finishing with a three-over round of 74 and at least off the very bottom of the leaderboard.

That meant the Northern Irishman was eight shots adrift of the early lead of five under held by Cameron Tringale, Hunter Mahan and Charles Howell III, who were all back in the clubhouse.

Defending FedEx Cup champion Henrik Stenson was among the afternoon starters as were European Ryder Cup hopefuls Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood.

The top 125 players in the standings have qualified for The Barclays, with the field being trimmed to 100 for the Deutsche Bank Championship, 70 for the BMW Championship and then 30 for the Tour Championship with the man finishing top of the standings claiming a 10million US dollars bonus.

McIlroy led the FedEx Cup standings coming into the tournament followed by Jimmy Walker, Watson, Matt Kuchar and Jim Furyk.

McIlroy, who appeared on late-night US television with Tiger Woods earlier this week, days after parading his Claret Jug at Manchester United's Old Trafford ground last weekend, said he needed to regain his focus to get back into contention.

“I’m not quite on my game, I’ve not quite put in the time over the last few days for obvious reasons,” he said on Sky Sports.

“I’m going to go and have some lunch and then work on the range, work on a few things, and try to catch up on some practice I’ve missed out on over the last week and try to be ready for tomorrow.”

Looking forward to the FedEx Cup, he added: “For me, not being here for the weekend isn’t an option. I’ve got to work hard today on the range and get out there and get off to a fast start tomorrow, and get myself back into this tournament.”

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