Rory’s Annua Horribilis

It's supposed to be Rory McIlroy's "Annus Mirabilis" after a three-month sabbatical and off-season "recalibration" designed to set him up for a crack at Masters glory and the career Grand Slam.

But it was more a case of "Annua Horribilis"  in the second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am as his quest for early-season confidence suffered a massive setback on the tricky poa annua greens at Monterey Peninsula's Shore Course.

Not only did he five-putt his 14th hole, but he also three-putted four times (three of them in the last four holes) and signed for a three over 74 that leaves him tied for 88th on one-under and two shots outside the projected cut.

Paul McGinley warned earlier this week that the putting surfaces on the West Coast might prove a challenge for McIlroy after the fireworks of back to back top-three finishes in the Middle East.

“The first two weeks, okay he didn’t win, but he chipped and putted particularly well,” McGinley said. "But the next two weeks will tell us a lot, going to poa annua greens where it is a test of nerve and guile to putt well, as well as skill.”

But McIlroy (28) didn't putt well yesterday and was schooled by four-time Pebble Beach Pro-Am winner Phil Mickelson (47)—winless for nearly five years—who had 24 putts to McIlroy's 38.

Total putts explain little, but the left-hander made six birdies in a six-under 65 to finish the day just three shots behind world No 1 Dustin Johnson, who shot a seven-under 64 at the same venue to lead by two with Beau Hossler on 12-under par.

McIlroy was just one-under to Mickelson's five-under when they came to their 14th hole, the 349-yard fifth.

It's out of reach for most, but McIlroy's booming drive left him an 80 footer for an eagle two from just off the front edge.

He gave it a chance, burning the hole but leaving himself a seven-footer for birdie coming back.

But after knocking that three feet past, he carelessly bashed his par putt six feet past again, missed that too and eventually holed out for a double-bogey six.

It was little wonder he stared at the ground dejectedly for a few moments and to no-one's surprise, three-putted the par-five sixth for par and then also three-putted the short seventh and the eighth for bogeys, the latter error coming from inside 10 feet.

The smile that came when he opened with a birdie from three feet at the 10th disappeared quickly on what was clearly a frustrating day with the putter.

He bogeyed the par-five 12th and three-putted the 15th for another bogey before making a two-putt birdie at the par-five 16th.

When he spun his approach back to four feet to set up a birdie at the first, he was all smiles again.

But the wheels came off after that unofficial five-putt and he must now regroup at Pebble Beach just to make the top 60 and ties who make the cut tonight.

Like McIlroy, Graeme McDowell also had a nightmare day, going out in level on the back nine at Spyglass Hill before running up two bogeys and three double bogeys in a homeward 44 for an eight-over 80.

That leaves him tied for 149th on seven-over with Pádraig Harrington a shot further back after a 76 at Pebble Beach where Shane Lowry also found it tough to get the ball in the hole.

The Offaly man sits on the projected three-under cut mark after a one-over 73 while Paul Dunne is back on level par after a one-over 72 at Monterey Peninsula.

As for Seamus Power, he's also in danger of missing the cut after a level par 72 at Pebble Beach left him 110th on one-over