Donald, Westwood among those to miss Open cut
SANDWICH, England – As one-two punches go, Royal St. George’s delivered a knockout, times two.
The world’s top two ranked players, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, hardly got served up any goodness on home soil as the Englishmen both missed the cut at the 140th Open Championship. Seemingly safe when he got to 2 over with a birdie at the par-4 13th, Donald collapsed down the stretch and bogeys at each of the last four holes dashed his hopes of following last week’s win at the Scottish Open with his first major title.
Donald shot 75 and at 6-over 146 he was three shots too high, missing an Open Championship cut for the first time since 2004.
Westwood’s saga had a different twist, because it was an outward 38 that proved his undoing. But unlike Donald, who played late, Westwood went out early and had to wait around all day to see his fate. At 4 over when he made the turn, Westwood failed to generate much on the back, his one birdie matched by a bogey at the par-3 16th and a round of 73 left him at 4-over 144.
Westwood had good company at that number, with two-time champion Padraig Harrington there on the strength of a 71, and later Hunter Mahan bogeyed his 18th hole for a 4-over total.
That large group then was at the mercy of the late finishers, but as the sun slipped away and temperatures dropped, there wasn’t enough movement to save the 4 overs. Westwood, who had entered as the betting favorite, missed the cut after having been second in 2010 and third in 2009. For Harrington, it continued a bizarre trend – in his last seven Open Championships he has won twice, missed four cuts and finished T-65.
Feast or famine, perhaps, but for Mahan, it’s pure heartache. Having battled back from an opening 75 to get to 3 over and on the cut, he couldn’t finish the job and thus has left early at all three majors this season.
He has company, however. That’s because the woes continued for Jonathan Byrd, Ben Crane, Hiroyuki Fujita, Francesco Molinari and Kevin Na – they’ve missed the cut in each 2011 major, too.
Donald and Westwood were hardly the only notables to check out early. So, too, did 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, whose round of 77 did not include a single birdie. Nor did it answer any of his questions.
“I just drove it average. Iron play was average. Everything was average. My attitude has been pretty average the last two days, I’d have to say,” McDowell said after missing a cut for the fourth time in his last seven PGA Tour tournaments.
“I wouldn’t call it traumatic. It’s just sport. But it’s disappointing, of course. I’m just not in the right frame of mind.”
Hard to imagine that Sean O’Hair is thinking clearly, too. Not after he walked to the 18th tee at 2 over, then walked off the final green 4 over after a double-bogey. He’s now missed the cut in nine of his last 12 starts.
Nick Watney, who recently moved to No. 10 in the world rankings, double-bogeyed the par-3 16th and missed the cut at 5-over 145. He was joined in the early exit by playing competitors Matteo Manassero (145) and Angel Cabrera (146). Those at 7 over included Geoff Ogilvy, who has missed three cuts and withdrawn once in his last six tournaments, and Ian Poulter (78).
Ernie Els, looking even more anguished against younger playing competitors Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler, and hardly looked like a former winner who had piled up a dozen top-10 finishes in this tournament. Rounds of 72-76 earned him a second straight early exit from the Open Championship after having made the cut 18 times in a row.
Still, Els scored slightly better than one of America’s most consistent players, Matt Kuchar (74-77), who continued his strange relationship with links golf. He said he likes it and very much enjoys the experience, but he’s now missed the cut in six of his seven Open Championship tries.
The other side of the story were those who played well to make the cut. Paul Casey backed up a 74 with a 69 to snap a stretch of three straight missed-cuts on the PGA Tour and perhaps most impressive was Open Championship rookie Gary Woodland. Having started with a 75, he bogeyed a few holes early and was 7 over before playing his last 12 holes in 4 under to make the cut on the number.
When the cut fell at 3-over 143, 71 players had advanced to weekend play. Among those are 15 who can proudly say they’ve made the cut in all three majors this season: Woodland, Jason Day, Sergio Garcia, Bill Haas, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Edoardo Molinari, Jeff Overton, Ryan Palmer, Charl Schwartzel, Steve Stricker, Bo Van Pelt, Bubba Watson and Y.E. Yang.
Johnson, Mickelson and Schwartzel each have made the cut in eight straight majors, which is tops on Tour.