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McIlroy stuck in rare slump

Rory McIlroy is playing more golf than he planned going into his title defense at the U.S. Open.

Just not on the right days.

McIlroy lost his No. 1 ranking -- and briefly lost his composure -- by missing consecutive cuts at two big tournaments at The Players Championship and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, where frustrations boiled over to the point that he tossed a 6-iron after an errant shot.

If nothing else, it was a wake-up call for McIlroy.

"When you've went on a run when you've hardly finished outside the top five, and then all of a sudden two missed cuts, it's more of a shock than anything else," McIlroy said Wednesday. "Just a little bit surprising, and it's something I haven't really had to deal with in a while, and I just have to knuckle down and figure it out and get back to the way I was at the start of the year."

He can only hope the Memorial is the start of another big run.

Most of the game's best players are at Muirfield Village, a popular spot because Jack Nicklaus is the tournament host and a good location on the schedule with the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club only two weeks away.

It's the strongest field of a regular PGA Tour event this year, featuring McIlroy, world No. 1 Luke Donald, defending champion Steve Stricker and Masters champion Bubba Watson, along with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

McIlroy added the St. Jude Classic next week as he tries to find a form that suddenly went missing.

"I just feel like I need more rounds," he said. "These two-day weeks aren't really that good for me."

He has lost his No. 1 ranking (again) to Donald. He has lost out on a chance to play on the weekend. He has not lost his perspective, his refreshing honesty and some of that self-deprecating humor. By playing next week in Memphis, that means McIlroy will not see Olympic until he arrives for the U.S. Open.

"I'm planning on getting there on Sunday night. Do you know what I mean," he said with a smile, another dig at himself by suggesting that he hopes to be playing on the weekend at the St. Jude Classic.

McIlroy, who turned 23 earlier this month, already is getting the scrutiny that has accompanied Woods his entire career, and Mickelson when he went a decade without winning a major. It was big news when he missed the cut at Sawgrass as the No. 1 player, and even bigger news when he tossed the club at Wentworth on his way to missing the cut by a mile.

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