Just a couple tournaments removed from being considered the best golfer in the world, the 23-year-old left the BMW Championship on Friday with more questions than answers following an abysmal 7-over 79 that resulted in his second consecutive missed cut this year.
After taking the golf world by storm just last year at his U.S. Open, McIlroy moved to the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking after his win at the Honda Classic, leading many to proclaim that he was, in fact, the best player in golf. (Even though he and Luke Donald have played a game of musical chairs for the No. 1 ranking for the past 13 months.)
Regardless, everyone had McIlroy pegged for big things this season. But following his struggles this week at Wentworth, the big question on everyone's is where does he go from here?
After round of 74-79, it appears the only way he can go is up. At least that's what he's hoping. McIlroy admitted on Friday that he'd gotten away from grinding on the range and working tirelessly on his game, two things he did on a regular basis earlier in the year.
"I think I may have taken my eye off the ball a little bit, maybe not practicing as hard as I had been," he said.
Here's the deal with McIlroy: the kid's going to be just fine. He'll get his game sorted in the coming weeks. But if there's one thing that's a little troubling about the way this week went, it was the manner in which he missed the cut, packing it in mid-round when he still had a chance to make the weekend.
I can understand fighting to make the cut and coming up short, but based on McIlroy's body language late in the round, it looked like his competitive drive was non-existent. That was evident following a stretch of holes that included a double-bogey and five consecutive bogeys that torpedoed his day.
Even when McIlroy was struggling to make the weekend, it always seemed like he was still out there grinding. Blame the struggles if you want on his history at the Players and BMW (he's never made the weekend at the Players or had a finish of note at the BMW). Even still, it feels like something's amiss at the moment.
"It's been a week I'd like to forget. It's not nice to play like this and not nice two weeks in a row. Maybe it's a good thing I have two days off to practice and I'm looking to getting back to the States next week.
"I just feel I've lacked competitive rounds."
Whatever he's lacking at the moment, he needs to find it pretty quickly if he wants to have any shot of defending at the U.S. Open in three weeks' time.