IT'S a measure of Rory McIlroy's calamitous year that yesterday's hapless first-round 79, in which the humbled Holywood star even putted into a bunker, is only the latest in a series of catastrophes this season.
McIlroy was on top of the world, literally, as he purred into 2013 on the back of a meteoric six months in which he won a second Major title in record-breaking fashion and topped the official money list in the USA and Europe.
There was little indication of the nightmares which lay ahead for the Holywood golfer, while a warning from Nick Faldo that McIlroy's decision to change clubs from Titleist to Nike was "dangerous" was widely dismissed.
Just can't do it despite $200M deal
Friday 18 January
McIlroy's life-changing $20m-per-annum contract with Nike was officially launched the Monday before his first event of the year, the Abu Dhabi Championship.
Yet his play in the tournament certainly did not live up to all that razzmatazz as the Ulsterman and his new Nike stablemate Tiger Woods both missed Friday's cut in Abu Dhabi. Worryingly, McIlroy struggled to hit his new Covert driver in play and reverted to his old Scotty Cameron putter for the second round... a very inauspicious start indeed.
Edged out by his old pal Lowry
Wednesday 20 February
NEARLY five weeks after missing the cut at his first event of the season, McIlroy teed it up in only the second tournament of his season, the Accenture Match Play World Golf Championship in Tucson, Arizona ... yet his need for competitive action and hopes that he might be able to get confidence and motivation were stymied when he was beaten by Shane Lowry in the first round on the Ritz-Carlton Resort.
A mental and dental disaster
Friday February 29
IN the darkest moment of his career, McIlroy walked off the golf course and abandoned his title defence at The Honda Classic after completing just eight holes of his second round.
After telling reporters he "was not in a good place mentally", a statement was issued in which McIlroy also complained of wisdom tooth pain.
Whether mental or dental reasons led him to quit, his golf that day was almost incomprehensible as McIlroy stumbled to seven-over through eight holes and then walked off the course after hitting his second shot into water on 18.
Third-round Masters meltdown
Saturday 13 April
ANY hope McIlroy had of slipping into a Green Jacket at April's US Masters were dashed by a seven-over-par round on the Saturday, which included two sevens on the back nine, a treble-bogey at 11 and a double-bogey at the long 15th. He finished the first Major of the season in a share of 25th place on two-over after a 69 on Sunday.
Throwing his clubs out of the pram
Sunday 14 June
ON a day illuminated by the performance of Justin Rose in winning the US Open and the dignity of the Englishman's words in his moment of victory, McIlroy threw one club and badly bent another out of shape in a couple of Sunday afternoon tantrums which underlined the intensity of his frustration with his form and sullied his image as he slumped into a share of 41st at Merion on 14-over-par.
No home comforts at Carton
Friday 28 June
McILROY complained of feeling "a little lost" during his first-round 74 at the Irish Open in Carton House. He missed the cut along with Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell, on a black Friday for the event, following a second-round 72 in which McIlroy found some encouragement in his play but still appeared to be only a sullen shadow of the player who set the world's fairways alight last year. This was the fifth time in 13 events so far this year that the 24-year-old failed to make the weekend, a figure which includes three missed cuts, his first match play defeat in Tucson and that controversial withdrawal at Honda.
Distracted star sinks like stone
Thursday 18 July
COMPLAINING that he'd been "brain-dead" on the golf course during yesterday's opening 79 at Muirfield, McIlroy equalled his worst round score against par at the Majors. He was also eight-over when he shot a second-round 80 at St Andrews in the 2010 Open and again on Sunday at Augusta in 2011 when he posted another 80 in one of the most infamous meltdowns in Masters history.
McIlroy three-putted three times and, remarkably, hit another lengthy putt into the back bunker at 15 as he scraped around in the same score, 79, as Nick Faldo (56) yesterday, who came out of retirement to play this event. In all, he had two double-bogeys, six birdies and just two pars on another calamitous day in this annus horribilis for the World No 2.