Sports

Home hero McIlroy hits season-worst 9-over-par 80 at gusty Irish Open, faces likely early exit

  • Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy looks dejected after missing a putt on hole 18 during round one of the Irish Open Golf Championship at Royal County Down, Newcastle, Northern Ireland, Thursday, May 28, 2015.  (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

    Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy looks dejected after missing a putt on hole 18 during round one of the Irish Open Golf Championship at Royal County Down, Newcastle, Northern Ireland, Thursday, May 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)  (The Associated Press)

  • Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy lines up a putt on hole 11 during round one of the Irish Open Golf Championship at Royal County Down, Newcastle, Northern Ireland, Thursday, May 28, 2015.  (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

    Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy lines up a putt on hole 11 during round one of the Irish Open Golf Championship at Royal County Down, Newcastle, Northern Ireland, Thursday, May 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)  (The Associated Press)

  • Golf fans wait for Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy during round one of the Irish Open Golf Championship at Royal County Down, Newcastle, Northern Ireland, Thursday, May 28, 2015.  (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

    Golf fans wait for Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy during round one of the Irish Open Golf Championship at Royal County Down, Newcastle, Northern Ireland, Thursday, May 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)  (The Associated Press)

Rory McIlroy can't seem to perform in front of a home crowd.

The Northern Ireland star looked bewildered as he shot a 9-over-par 80 — his worst score of the season — in Thursday's opening round of the Irish Open. He finished the morning at the bottom of the leaderboard, with half the field yet to tee off.

Most struggled with gales and bracing showers at Royal County Down, a seaside links course beside the Mourne Mountains. Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen and England's Danny Willett shared the early lead at 2 under par.

McIlroy bogeyed half of the course and couldn't hit a birdie. The sellout crowd of 20,000 gasped with each miss.

If McIlroy fails to make the cut Friday, it would be his third straight early Irish Open exit.