Battling Rory McIlroy misses the cut at US Open
RORY MCILROY veered from the sublime to the ridiculous to miss the halfway cut in the US Open as Lee Westwood and Shane Lowry remained firmly in contention at Oakmont.
Despite getting off to a brilliant start, McIlroy could only add a second round of 71 to his opening 77 to miss his first cut in a major championship since the 2013 Open at Muirfield and end a run of nine straight top-25 finishes in the game's biggest events.
In contrast, Lowry recovered from two early bogeys - the second caused when he called a penalty on himself - to shoot 70 and lie just two shots behind halfway leader Dustin Johnson, who had played 36 holes on Friday.
And Westwood birdied the 16th and 18th to repair some of the damage inflicted by a run of six bogeys in the space of nine holes to be just a shot further back after a roller-coaster 72.
At four under par, Johnson was a shot ahead of first-round leader Andrew Landry, with Lowry on two under alongside Spain's Sergio Garcia, France's Gregory Bourdy and American Scott Piercy.
Westwood was a shot further back alongside England's Andy Sullivan, former champion Jim Furyk and Daniel Summerhays, with Lee Slattery among the group on level par which included major champions Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen.
McIlroy had completed his weather-delayed first round on Friday with bogeys on his last three holes to finish seven over par, equalling his worst score in the event which provided his first major victory in 2011.
The only good news for the 27-year-old was that Thursday's early starters were then told they would not start their second rounds until Saturday morning, after initially being given a start time of 8:54pm on Friday evening - two minutes after sunset.
The combination of a session on the range with coach Michael Bannon and a more aggressive approach then paid off for McIlroy on day three as he birdied the 10th, 12th, 14th and 16th and then drove the green on the short par-four 17th, only to three-putt for par from 80 feet.
Further birdie chances went begging on the first and second before McIlroy's round imploded on the third, the world number three four-putting from around 10 feet to run up a double-bogey six.
Another bogey on the sixth left McIlroy on the cut line of six over par and his chances of making the weekend disappeared when he failed to get out of a fairway bunker on the ninth at the first attempt.