Disastrous start for McIlroy

Rory McIlroy was finding it hard going in New Jersey (AP)

Rory McIlroy was finding it hard going in New Jersey (AP)

First published in National Sport News © by

Rory McIlroy endured a nightmare start to his bid to make it four wins in a row as he reached the turn in a four-over 40 in the first round at The Barclays.

The world number one came into the first leg of the four-tournament FedEx Cup play-offs as a hot favourite following victories at the Open Championship, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and US PGA Championship.

But his form deserted him during the early stages at Ridgewood Country Club as he registered a double-bogey on the 12th, his third hole, and followed that with bogeys on the 13th and 18th to leave him last of all players on the course.

That meant the Northern Irishman was nine shots adrift of the early lead of five under held by Ryo Ishikawa and Steven Bowditch, who had played 14 and 12 holes respectively.

Scotland's Russell Knox was the only European making any sort of impression as he sat three under after 11 holes and two shots off the lead.

In-form Rickie Fowler was also three under through 11, while two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson was two under through nine.

Defending FedEx Cup champion Henrik Stenson was among the afternoon starters as were European Ryder Cup hopefuls Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood.

The top 125 players in the standings have qualified for The Barclays, with the field being trimmed to 100 for the Deutsche Bank Championship, 70 for the BMW Championship and then 30 for the Tour Championship, with the man finishing top of the standings claiming a 10million US dollars bonus.

McIlroy led the FedEx Cup standings coming into the tournament followed by Jimmy Walker, Watson, Matt Kuchar and Jim Furyk.

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