McIlroy, Donald and Watson miss cut at US Open
The record-setting U.S. Open winner. The Masters champion. The
top-ranked player in the world.
Gone. Gone. Gone.
The Olympic Club clobbered Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Luke
Donald in two rounds at the U.S. Open, sending some of the most
prominent players on the planet home before the weekend. All three
missed the cut, looking more like amateurs at a local course than
professionals in a major championship.
”Disappointed,” said McIlroy, the second-ranked player who
finished at 268 last year at Congressional to break the 72-hole
record by four shots. ”It wasn’t the way I wanted to play.”
Not even close.
World No. 1 Luke Donald finished at 11-over par, McIlroy 10 over
and Watson 9 over. While 65 players were good enough to hang around
at 8 over or better, the three stars were among 91 others not quite
ready for ”golf’s toughest test.”
So long, San Francisco.
”I felt a little uncomfortable,” Donald said. ”I felt I
wasn’t compressing the ball like I should have been. I didn’t have
quite the full control. In previous years, I probably would have
panicked a little bit. But I tried to go out and just kind of trust
it and even in the practice days I wasn’t quite comfortable.”
Feeling uneasy is exactly what organizers wanted.
That, and a smaller field on the weekend.
The USGA decided this year to eliminate the 10-shot rule in
which players within 10 strokes of the lead make the cut. Starting
at this year’s championship, the cut was the top 60 and ties.
USGA executive director Mike Davis said the idea behind the new
rule was to limit the number of players making the cut – 108 did so
Oakland Hills in 1996 – and prevent slow play that could force a
two-tee start in threesomes.
The flip side was 1993, when Ernie Els made the cut because of
the 10-shot rule. He closed with 68-67 on the weekend to tie for
seventh, which made him exempt for qualifying the following year.
Els won that next year at Oakmont for the first of his three
Watson, 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and Dustin
Johnson were among the notables who would’ve been spared this year.
So would’ve Casey Martin and his cart, too.
”I haven’t really looked at the leaderboard,” said Phil
Mickelson, whose second-round 71 put him at 7 over and safe. ”I’ve
been more on the cut line.”
Donald came to the U.S. Open with six wins in the past 18
months, more than any other player. Last year, the 34-year-old
Englishman pulled off an unprecedented feat by topping the money
lists on both the PGA and European tours.
Now he’ll probably miss the weekend for the third time in nine
U.S. Open starts.
Donald followed his birdie-free 79 – which even 14-year-old
qualifier Andy Zhang matched Thursday – with a less erratic second
round. He had five bogeys and three birdies to card a 72, coming up
empty in yet another major.
”That’s the one part of my golfing resume in the last few
years, especially, that I need to continually address and
continually improve,” Donald said. ”I want to win one more than
any of you guys know.”
At least one person didn’t care.
Donald was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in
the Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday honors list released Saturday for
spending almost a year at the top of golf’s world ranking.
”Not sure the Queen will be watching,” Donald joked earlier
this week in response to a curious British reporter’s question.
”But who knows?”
Her Majesty won’t have the chance.
The fast and fickle fairways some of the game’s top players
hacking out of rough and digging into sand for shots. Others
searched for balls in the colossal cypress trees or pushed putts
all over the rock-hard greens. Some did all of them.
The only thing more startling than the top-ranked player’s early
exit was last year’s champion.
McIlroy mixed five bogeys – including one on his final hole –
with a pair of birdies in the second round a day after he posted a
77. The 23-year-old from Northern Ireland shattered U.S. Open
records last June at rain-softened Congressional, finishing at 268
to break the 72-hole record by four shots, and his 16-under total
was four better than Woods’ mark at Pebble Beach in 2000.
What a pushover that course look like now.
”It’s just the course is so tough with the reverse cambers and
you hit it in the middle of the fairway sometimes it doesn’t hold
and you’re in the rough and when you hit it in the rough it makes
it difficult,’ McIlroy said about Olympic. ”They set it up like a
real classic U.S. Open.”
Follow Antonio Gonzalez at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP