The four-time Major winner got off to a nightmare start in his Players Championship defence

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WATCH: McIlroy Makes 8 On TPC Sawgrass 18th

Rory McIlroy endured a horror start to his Players Championship defence, going out in 43 and +7 to leave himself battling to make the cut.

The four-time Major winner came into the week after a disappointing 76 in the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Still, he finished T10th there and was T6th in his previous start in the WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession.

McIlroy double-bogeyed the 10th hole at TPC Sawgrass, his first, and then found himself three over after four holes.

However, disaster was about to strike when he hit two balls in the water on the par-4 18th.

He pulled his drive and then found the water again with an iron.

McIlroy eventually found the green with his fifth shot and three-putted to card a quadruple-bogey.

WATCH: McIlroy Makes 8 On TPC Sawgrass 18th

Related: Players Championship Live Stream: How to watch the action

McIlroy went on to birdie his next hole to get back to six over.

The Northern Irishman said earlier this week that he still believes his best days are ahead of him.

“No, I don’t think you can ever think that,” he said after being asked if his best days are behind him.

“I’ve talked about this before; you have to be an eternal optimist in this game, and I truly believe that my best days are ahead of me.

“There’s no point in me being out here if I didn’t think that.

“That’s just not part of my psyche or anyone’s psyche out here.

“I think that’s the difference between people that make it to the elite level and the people that don’t, because they don’t think that way.

“I certainly believe that my best days are ahead of me, and I’m working hard to make sure that they are.”