Dublin - Rory McIlroy, his US Open title defence a fortnight away, missed the cut in his third straight tournament on Friday, heading for the exit early at the USPGA Tour's Memorial.
The 23-year-old star from Northern Ireland had regained the world number one ranking four weeks ago but has since missed the cut at the US tour's Players Championship and Europe's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
McIlroy's seven-over 79 included two double-bogeys -- a seven at the par-five 11th hole and a six at the par-four 14th.
"I hit some good shots," McIlroy said. "It just seems like every time I go out there, I make one or two big numbers and that sort of throws me.
"Just those big numbers at the beginning are killing me, and I just need to get those off the card and I'll be OK."
McIlroy had three bogeys and not a single birdie on the day, his six-over 150 well beyond the cut at 147.
The last time McIlroy missed three cuts in a row was in August 2008, when he failed to make the weekend at the Scandinavian Masters, Dutch Open and Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
He was just 19 years old then, and ranked 164th in the world.
Britain's Luke Donald, the current world number one, agreed with McIlroy's own assessment that there was no major problem with McIlroy's game -- which only makes it more frustrating.
"Just having watched Rory the last few days, he's not far away," Donald said. "He made a couple of careless errors and made some big numbers on a couple holes that was the difference this week. I'm sure once he posts that one good round, that one solid run of maybe a couple of rounds, this will be a blur and he'll forget about it quickly."
The dagger came at the 11th, where McIlroy acknowledged he made a mistake in trying to play back into the fairway after his second shot rolled down the bank of the creek.
The ball hit the bank and rolled back into the water, leaving him struggling for his double-bogey.
"I just wanted to chip it out in the middle of the fairway, and as soon as I hit it, it obviously just hit the bank in front of me and came back in the water," McIlroy said.
"Probably a bit of bad judgment because I thought I could just chip it back out. But if I had examined the line a little bit closer, I might have just taken a drop straight away."
McIlroy had already added next week's St. Jude Classic in Memphis to his schedule, saying he wanted to get more rounds in before the US Open tees off at Olympic Club in San Francisco on June 14.
"I don't feel like the scores are actually reflecting how I'm hitting the ball," he said. "I just need to keep working on it and try and string 18 good holes together, and then try and string two days together, and obviously three days and ultimately four."
The player acknowledged that he still has "a long way to go."