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Rory McIlroy struggles early on home turf at Irish Open

Rory McIlroy struggles early on home turf at Irish Open
Rory McIlroy reacts after finishing the first round of the Irish Open at nine-over-par 80. (Charles McQuillan / Getty Images)

It would be fair to say that Rory McIlroy has hit a rough patch.

The No. 1-ranked golfer from Northern Ireland has won two of his last four tournaments but missed the cut at the BMW PGA Championship last week and got off to a horrendous start at the Irish Open on Thursday.

McIlroy bogeyed five of his first nine holes on the way to a nine-over-par 80 in the first round at Royal County Down.

"I think it's a little bit of everything," he said. "I just didn't play good enough today."

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With early play continuing, Alexander Levy held the lead in windy conditions at five-under. Soren Hansen and Bradley Neil stood one stroke back.

As for McIlroy, he faces the prospect of another disappointment in his native country's championship, where he has missed the cut the past two years.

"I don't want to make it three in a row," he said. "Try to claw my way back up towards the cut line and, if I can sneak in there, that would be great."

Padraig Harringto of Ireland and Maximilian Kieffer of Germany each shot 67 to share the lead. Soren Hansen of Denmark is in third, one shot back.

Rickie Fowler, who won the Players Championship three weeks ago, opened with a 71 playing alongside McIlroy.

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