Published Friday, 15 June 2012
Rory McIlroy walks off the eighth green during the second round of the US Open (© Getty)
The damage had been done after an opening round of 77 for the 23-year-old Holywood golfer, who was an eight-shot winner on a record 16 under last June.
"I felt I really turned a corner last week," said the world number two who was seventh in Memphis and shared the lead until a closing double bogey.
"But this course is so punishing."
"Obviously I'm disappointed. It wasn't the way I wanted to play, but, to be honest, overall I don't feel like I played that badly.
"You really have to be so precise out there. We're just not used to playing this sort of course week-in, week-out.
"You have to adapt and adjust and I wasn't able to do that very well."
When asked how humbling the last few weeks had been McIlroy replied: "It has been. You realise you've just got to keep working hard - it doesn't come easy to you all the time."
I still see enough good stuff and that gives me hope that it's not very far away.
McIlroy also crashed out early from Sawgrass, Wentworth and Muirfield Village.
After a week off he will return in the Irish Open at Royal Portrush, where he set an amazing course record of 61 in 2005 when just 16, before heading to The Open at Royal Lytham later in July.
There is still a chance of the US Open trophy going back to Northern Ireland for the third successive year.
Graeme McDowell, who was crowned champion at Pebble Beach in 2010, reached two under, but three bogeys in his last four holes left him two behind.
McDowell, who is still in contention before the weekend, said: "It's just tough to have fun out there, I've got to be honest with you. It's just a brutal test of golf.
"I'm disappointed to bogey three of the last four, but that's what this golf course can do to you in a heartbeat - and if you had offered me one over par starting on the first tee yesterday I would have probably snapped your arm off for it.
"I'm very happy to be where I am. I made enough birdies to kind of offset some mistakes, which I think's key."
Tiger Woods remains a firm favourite as he enters the weekend joint leader at one under par. Woods added a 70 to his opening 69 on Friday.
Jim Furyk, now 42 and nine years on from his victory in the event, shot 69 and then 45-year-old David Toms, whose major title came at the 2001 USPGA Championship, matched his round.
World number one Luke Donald crashed out and was one worse than McIlroy on 11 over.