McIlroy has time on his side

By Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy pointed to the big picture after missing his fifth cut from eight starts on the 2008 European Tour schedule.

The 18-year-old rookie insisted that he is not feeling the pressure of expectation following his headline-grabbing start to his professional career last year.

"I just concentrate on what I have to do," he said after missing the cut in the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea. "I'm only 18."

Ranked 109th in the Order of Merit at the start of the week, McIlroy stopped talking about a possible Ryder Cup debut several weeks ago.

And after failing to undo the damage of a first round 76 with a battling 71 in the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea, he insisted that he is improving as a player.

After finishing three shots outside the projected cut on three-over par, he said: "I didn't do enough to make the cut but I feel as if I'm starting to play a bit better every day.

"I played better than 76 yesterday and I played quite nicely today and I feel as though it's getting better all the time."

The former amateur world No 1 has broken par in 12 of his 22 tournament rounds this season. But just four of those scores have come in the opening round.

He said: "I've struggled to get off to good starts this year. I've really struggled to shoot quite a good score in the first round, which I have to try and do a bit more because it gives you that comfort that you can go out the next day looking to the top of the leaderboard rather than trying to make the cut like I have been doing in the last few tournaments."

The teenager has two weeks off before reappearing in the Estoril Open de Portugal from April 3-6.

And he''ll be hoping for an improvement on his performance there as an amateur last year, when he opened with an eight over par 79 at Oitavos Golfe and missed the cut by five shots.