Rory McIlroy: Northern Irishman faces battle to make Irish Open cut
Rory McIlroy admitted to feeling "a little lost" after carding a two-over-par 74 in the opening round of the Irish Open at Carton House.
The 24-year-old world No 2 is tied for 101st place - eight shots off the lead - after mixing two birdies with four bogeys.
McIlroy has been struggling to find his form this year after switching to Nike clubs in January and bent a nine iron out of shape during a frustrating final round at the US Open earlier this month.
The nine iron has since gained a new shaft but it did not change his fortunes in County Kildare and he struggled to find an answer when asked what was going wrong.
"I don't really know," he said. "No aspects of my game are standing out as strong. I'm hitting it well on the range and struggling hitting shots out on the course. The game is not coming as easy to me as it did last year.
"Off the tee I'm missing it left and right and it's difficult to stand on the tee and be confident that at least one side is out of play. I don't know if it's a case of playing through it or grinding it out on the range.
"I just feel a little lost at the moment. I had a good chat with my dad and Michael Bannon (his coach) the Saturday night of the US Open and felt like we got a bit of direction from there.
"But it's tough when you have rounds like this or you have tournaments where you think you're getting somewhere and all of a sudden you're stopped in your tracks and you've got to re-assess everything again.
"I'm staying patient and I don't want to say I'm accepting this, but there's nothing else I can do apart from trying to play well, practice and try to hit better shots."