(Reuters) - World number six Rory McIlroy made a "sloppy" start to the Irish Open on Thursday, blaming his short game after slumping to a three-over-par 74 in perfect conditions in the first round at the Fota Island Resort in County Cork.
The pre-tournament favorite was 10 shots adrift of early leader Mikko Ilonen after the Finn reeled off five birdies in his last seven holes to fire a course record 64.
McIlroy struggled at his home tournament a day after announcing he would play for Ireland at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, carding six bogeys and three birdies.
The twice major winner, who was joint 23rd at the U.S. Open on Sunday, is this week looking to move to the top of the Race to Dubai money list and back into the top five of the world rankings.
"I drove the ball great and got in the positions that you need to but I short-sided myself a couple of times, hit a couple of loose shots with my wedges and could not get a putt to drop," McIlroy told reporters.
"I was pretty sloppy with the scoring clubs so I might head to the range this afternoon to work on those. I need to do better tomorrow to be here for the weekend."
(Reporting by Sam Holden, editing by Tony Jimenez)