Tiger Woods trails Rory Sabbatini

Updated: June 2, 2012, 12:00 AM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Rory McIlroy matched Tiger Woods on Friday in an area where being compared is not a good thing: missed cuts on the PGA Tour.

For the third straight tournament, McIlroy failed to make the 36-hole cut, shooting a 7-over 79 in the second round of the Memorial at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

The missed cut was his eighth on the PGA Tour since turning pro in 2007. That matches the total number of cuts Woods has missed in 16 years dating to 1996.

Meanwhile, Woods moved into contention at the Memorial, a tournament he has won four times, the last in 2009.

Woods shot a 3-under 69 during the weather-delayed second round and trails leader Rory Sabbatini by 1 stroke.

Sabbatini played bogey-free over his final 12 holes, and despite missing a 5-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole, put together a 3-under 69.

Woods is tied for second with Spencer Levin (72) and Scott Stallings (73).

"I hit the ball well all day," Woods said. "It was a day that I needed to. The wind was blowing out there, was swirling in those trees, and it was just a tough day. ... I figured anything under par was going to be a good score, and I was able to post something in the 60s."

A victory here would be Woods' 73rd on the PGA Tour, tying him with tournament host Jack Nicklaus for second, nine behind Sam Snead.

"We've got a long way to go," Woods said. "Obviously, that would be nice. But we've still got a half a golf tournament to play."

McIlroy, 23, finds himself in a funk with his U.S. Open title defense looming in two weeks at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

After failing to finish no worse than fifth in any worldwide tournament leading into the Masters -- including a victory at the Honda Classic in March that moved him to No. 1 in the world for the first time -- McIlroy tied for 40th at the Masters.

He then rebounded at the Wells Fargo Championship last month, when he lost in a playoff to Rickie Fowler. A week later, he missed his third straight cut at The Players Championship, then missed the cut again last week at the European Tour's flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship.

McIlroy said he may have "taken my eye off the ball" last week at Wentworth, and he appeared determined to get back on track. He spent considerable time earlier this week and then Thursday with his coach from Northern Ireland, Michael Bannon.

And when he rebounded from a poor start Thursday -- he made a quadruple-bogey 7 early in his round -- to shoot 71, things appeared headed in the right direction.

But McIlroy, who lost his spot atop the world rankings to Luke Donald this week, managed no birdies in blustery conditions Friday. He had three bogeys and two double-bogeys, and for the second straight Friday, he shot 79.

"It just seems like every time I go out there, I make one or two big numbers and that sort of throws me, a couple doubles on the back nine," McIlroy said. "Just those big numbers at the beginning are killing me, and I just need to get those off the card and I'll be OK."

McIlroy finished at 6-over 150. The cut was 147. Twice previously, he has missed three consecutive cuts on the European Tour, where he has a total of 13 missed cuts, not including major championships.

"I don't feel like the scores are actually reflecting how I'm hitting the ball," said McIlroy, who will play the St. Jude Classic in Memphis next week. "I was able to string nine good holes together yesterday. I just need to keep working on it and try and string 18 good holes together and then try and string two days together and obviously three days and ultimately four.

"But I hit some good shots out there. I'm definitely hitting the ball better than I did last week, so I can see an improvement there. But I've still got a long way to go."

Sabbatini was at 6-under 138, the highest score to lead the Memorial in 22 years.

"We basically just kept the ball in play all day, and that's the challenge out there," Sabbatini said. "And we did that very well, and I'm very, very excited, very content with the way that things went."

Jim Furyk, another former champion, matched the best score Friday with a 68 and was in the group only two shots behind. There were 21 players within four shots of the lead, a list that includes Quail Hollow winner Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson, Lucas Glover and Adam Scott, who was contending for the lead until closing with three straight bogeys for a 72.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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