'Lost' Rory McIlroy is off the pace at Irish Open

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The Independent Online

Rory McIlroy's desperate search for form before The Open next month was again fruitless as he struggled to a two-over-par 74 in the first round of the Irish Open at Carton House, County Kildare.

McIlroy, who carded two birdies and four bogeys including one at the last, said on Wednesday that he had felt "suffocated" by the affection shown him by thousands of fans at recent Irish Opens but he was still determined to enjoy himself.

The world No 2 said he felt "a little lost at the moment" but promised there would be none of the club-throwing or club-bending antics which marked his indifferent showing at the US Open two weeks ago.

"It definitely wasn't the right thing to do," McIlroy said when asked about his tantrums in his final-round 76. "It doesn't set a good example.

"Something I've felt in a couple of Irish Opens is suffocated, having that burden and pressure and expectation. But the last couple of years I've tried to embrace the whole week, enjoy it and turn all that support into an advantage," he said.

The twice major champion's form has dipped alarmingly this year. In the last five months of 2012 he won four tournaments and rose to the top of the rankings but after changing his club manufacturer he has recorded just one top-five finish in 12 events this year.

At Carton House, McIlroy lies eight shots adrift of the leader, Sweden's Oscar Floren, whose flawless round of six-under-par 66 included four birdies and an eagle.