Nike would have been hoping for a more inspiring performance from McIlroy, their new multi-million dollar star signing. Instead the world number one, playing his first tournament with Nike clubs, will struggle to make the halfway cut after a poor round that saw him make two double-bogeys for a first round total of three-over 75.
"That was the first time I'd used the new clubs with a scorecard in my hands, so it was a case of learning a few things," he said. "It's a little different because on the range you can just wheel away and everything is fine. It's a little different on the course."
Woods, who was partnered with McIlroy on Thursday, did not fare much better. The world number two had started well, at one point getting to three-under, but began to slip back down on the back nine. A round of four birdies and four bogeys sees him on level par 72.
"Wanted to be able to shoot under par, somehow, didn't quite do it," said Woods. "Made a mistake at the last, but it was tough out there. These fairways are hard to hit and it seems like every hole is a crosswind hole. Not too many holes are playing either straight up or straight down."
In contrast, Welshman Jamie Donaldson and England's Justin Rose could not have made a better start. Both shot five-under 67s to share the first round lead. Dane Thorbjorn Olesen and Spain's Pablo Larrazabal are a further stoke back.
The newly appointed European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley also had a difficult day, only managing a 76.
Andrew Wild of Leaderboard Golf's Sandford Springs said:
"A disappointing start to the year for Rory. He will be acutely aware that the eyes of the golfing world are on him as he proceeds in his career with his new Nike equipment. "