Tiger relegates McIlroy to world No 3

Rory McIlroy hits to the 12th in the final round of the Open. Photo Eoin Clarke/www.golffile.ieRory McIlroy confessed that the chinks in his game were exposed by the major test that is Royal Lytham and St Annes.

But Holywood star suffered further punishment when he was relegated to third in the world rankings behind new world No 2 Tiger Woods.

After finishing 10th in the Irish Open three weeks ago, McIlroy believed he was set to challenge for his first Claret Jug at the venue where Seve Ballesteros made his major breakthrough as a 22-year old in 1979.

Yet despite opening with a 67, he lost confidence in his swing and followed a second rounds 75 with a pair of 73s to finish tied for 60th on eight over par.

“Major championships on the toughest courses expose a few weaknesses that you have there,” McDowell said of his failure to push on after the Irish Open.  “Portrush was a pretty gentle course in terms of what we’re facing this week.

“So when you see heavy rough on the left and bunkers on the right, you start thinking about that a little bit if you’re not 100 per cent confident about what you’re doing.”

Since last year’s record-breaking victory in the US Open at Congressional, McIlroy has flattered to deceive in the majors.

Leaving aside his share of 64th in the US PGA, where he injured his wrist playing a risky shot off a tree root, the Ulster star has finished 40th in the Masters, missed the cut in his US Open defence in San Francisco before plummeting down the leaderboard at Royal Lytham.

“I’m obviously very disappointed because I felt like I was coming in here playing pretty well.  I had a really nice first round, set myself up well for the week and then just started to struggle after that.  So it’s just disappointing.”

Lacking confidence, he said: “It’s hard when you’re trying to just get that little bit of momentum and you try to force it and you’re maybe trying too hard and things don’t go your way, and that sort of happened this week.”

He has a chance to put things right in next month’s US PGA at Kiawah Island but didn’t sound overly confident about his chances.

“I think the thing for me is to stay patient,” he said. “If it doesn’t happen over the next couple of weeks, no big deal.  It’s a 20-year career, so I’m not going to get too wound up just over a few weeks.  

“I’ve got to keep working away, plugging away, working hard and working on the right things and eventually it will come around.

“We were searching a little bit [on the range] Friday night and last night but feel like we found something there last night and had a really good session.  And actually feel like I hit the ball pretty well out there today, just got off to the bad start.  But, yeah, I’ve got something to work on for the next few weeks.”

Reminded that the FedEx Cup and the Ryder Cup are just around the corner, he smiled and said: “The thing about Ryder Cup, I’m going to be left out if I’m not playing too good.  No, it’s fine.  

“Like I said, I’ve just got to stay patient and just keep working away and it will turn around.  Everyone goes through little struggles.  What I’m experiencing at the minute is frustrating at times, but it’s not anything that I can’t deal with.”