| ABU DHABI
ABU DHABI Rory McIlroy made an inauspicious start to his Nike career, and there was certainly no tick against his scorecard, as the world number one missed the cut at the $2.7 million Abu Dhabi Championship on Friday.
The Northern Irishman, playing with new clubs and a new ball, swished and swooshed his way to a second successive three-over 75 in his first competitive outing since signing a massive sponsorship deal with the U.S. sportswear firm on Monday.
McIlroy followed a run of three straight pars with bogeys at the fourth, fifth and seventh before birdies at the eighth and ninth offered some hope that he might squeeze into the final two rounds on Saturday and Sunday.
However, the 23-year-old looked a picture of despair after dropping more shots at the 10th and 14th to post a six-over total of 150 in the European Tour event at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
"It was pretty much the same as yesterday," McIlroy told reporters. "When you don't hit the fairways on this course you can't score.
"I didn't drive the ball well, I didn't putt well again and my iron play wasn't anywhere near the standard that is usual for me. All aspects of my game were off.
"I'm also struggling with my swing a little bit. I feel like I'm spinning out of it a lot, hitting off the heel. I just need to put in a bit of work on the range," said McIlroy.
"I knew it was going to be a tough week with everything that's been going on. I was looking forward to getting back to the course and doing what I'm comfortable with - it just didn't work out like that."
Twice major winner McIlroy said he would stay in Abu Dhabi over the weekend to work on his game.
"It's the first week," he said, referring to his new clubs, "so I wouldn't read too much into it. If anything it's more the Indian and the arrow at this point.
"I'll work on the range for a few hours tomorrow and try to clear a few things up with my coach."
McIlroy temporarily ditched his new putter on Friday after having struggled with it in the opening round.
"I just felt the greens I've been practicing on in Florida are a lot faster than these ones here," he said. "The Nike putter is great on those.
"Here it's a weight issue more than anything. I could feel the head of this heavier one I used today is a little better but even when I got the ball to the hole it didn't go in so it was to no avail."
McIlroy will now take a four-week break from competitive golf before reappearing at the WGC-Accenture World Match Championship in Arizona.
(Editing by Justin Palmer)