Elite Prospects

Rory McIlroy leads list of who missed the cut

PONTE VEDRA BEACH —The cutline at the Players Championship was cruel to some of the game’s biggest stars, a reminder that there should be no guarantees of a paycheck at the highest levels.

Rory McIlroy, who has been an advocate of reduced field, no-cut designated events beginning in 2024, finished his second round on Saturday morning but will have the rest of the weekend off.

“Just very blah,” McIlroy said of his rounds of 76-73—149 at TPC Sawgrass. “Yeah, I guess the course, you just have to be really on to play well here. If you’re a little off, it definitely magnifies where you are off. It is, it’s a bit of an enigma. Some years I come here, and like it feels easier than others.”

Play was suspended on Friday afternoon due to inclement weather, and on Saturday morning the course played easier as the wind laid down and the greens softened. It made scoring easier but not enough to hold the cutline at 1 over. It moved back a stroke to 2-over 146, allowing 75 players in the 144-man field to continue in the trophy hunt. That included the following players who made it on the number: Shane Lowry, Tom Kim, Justin Thomas, Eric Cole, who eagled 16 to make it on the number, and 56-year-old PGA Tour Champions regular Jerry Kelly, who bogeyed his final hole to finish 2 over but it held up to become the oldest player to make the cut.

Playing the weekend @THEPLAYERSChamp ☘️ pic.twitter.com/ZPnEt1OmAm

— Shane Lowry (@ShaneLowryGolf) March 11, 2023

It also marks the end of Jon Rahm’s Tour-best streak of 25 straight made cuts. He withdrew from the tournament before the second round with a stomach ailment, snapping his streak. The new leader for most cuts made in a row is Xander Schauffele, who extended his streak to 18 this week.

Here are some of the other big names who left town empty-handed.

Matt Fitzpatrick hits to the green on hole 2 after an errant shot put him far off the course during second-round action of The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, Friday, March 10, 2023.

Fitzpatrick signed for a 76 on Thursday and made two birdies in his first four holes on Friday but only made one more birdie and two more bogeys, including at 18, to seal his fate.

Fitzpatrick hit an uncharacteristic 4 of 14 fairways in the first round (T-138) and he ranked 131st in Strokes Gained: Approach (-3.056) for the two days.

The reigning U.S. Open champ has now missed three of his last five cuts.

Matt Kuchar plays from the 3rd tee during the second round of the 2023 Players Championship.  (David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports)

The 2012 Players champ made seven bogeys and just one birdie on Friday and missed the cut in the Tour’s flagship event for the third straight year.

Kuchar was dialed in with his approach shots on Thursday, ranking fourth in proximity, and shot 2-under 70. But on Friday he didn’t make a birdie until 16 and by that point he’d already made six bogeys to shoot himself out of the tournament. Kuchar lost more than two strokes to the field on the greens and his proximity slipped to 116th.

Keegan Bradley putts on the 17th green during the second round of the 2023 Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

A snowman in Florida? Bradley made an eight at the par-4 18th on Friday, his ninth hole, that spoiled his weekend plans for TPC Sawgrass. Bradley, who finished fifth a year ago here and hadn’t missed the cut at the Tour’s flagship event since 2015, shot 70-78—148.

Bradley ranked 140th out of 143 in SG: Around the Green (-2.399) and was six for 10 in scrambling on Friday.

Kurt Kitayama putts on the 18th green during the first round of the 2023 Players Championship. (David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports)

The winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational a week ago shot 73-76—149 to miss the cut in his debut performance at the Players. It marked his fourth missed cut in 10 events this season.

Kitayama struggled across the board but his scrambling (six of 15) was particularly poor.

Rory McIlroy drops his head after his shot from the fairway of hole 14 rolled off the back of the green during the first round of the 2023 Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. (Bob Self/Florida Times Union)

McIlroy, the 2019 Players champion, miseed the cut for the second time in three years at TPC Sawgrass. The world No. 3 missed his first cut since the FedEx St. Jude Championship in August.

“What is going on with Rory McIlroy?” NBC/Golf Channel’s Paul Azinger wondered. “Pete Dye is smiling knowing he’s sabotaged one of the best players in the game.”

McIlroy dug himself a hole by shooting 4-over 76 on Thursday, his highest opening-round score since the 2021 Masters. McIlroy struggled off the tee, hitting just six fairways on Thursday (T-121) and 13 of 28 (T-117) for two rounds.

McIlroy had played 10 holes in 2 over when play was suspended on Friday. A double bogey at No. 6 sealed his fate. He signed for a second-round 73 for a 36-hole total of 5-over 149. His putter was the other culprit. He ranked 125th in Strokes Gained: Putting losing more than three strokes to the field on the greens.

Harris English hits his drive on the first hole during the final round of the 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando. (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)

One week after finishing T-2 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Harris English had a miserable first round at TPC Sawgrass. He ranked 135th in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, hitting just 5 of 14 fairways (T-134) and his proximity to the hole on his approach shots ranked 141 of 144 players in the field. He went out in 41 and shot 78. He played slightly better on Friday and was 7 over through 27 holes when play was suspended. He signed for 1-under 71 in the second round, including four birdies and an eagle but the damage was done.

It marked the seventh straight time English has missed the cut at the Players, and fifth missed cut in eight starts in 2023.

2022 RSM Classic

Seamus Power of Ireland. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

The Irishman ended a streak of nine straight made cuts by shooting 74-76—150. It marked his first missed cut since the Shriners Children’s Open in October.

Power, who entered the week ranked fifth in the FedEx Cup, struggled with his putter in both rounds. He lost more than three strokes on the greens for two rounds and ranked 128th of 143 players in the field. He got up and down only four of nine times on Friday, which doomed him to a weekend off.

Webb Simpson plays from the pine straw on the 9th fairway during the first round of the 2023 Players Championship. (David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports)

Webb Simpson shot a pair of 76s, in part because he was miserable from tee to green, losing more than seven strokes to the field in that category and ranking 139th of 143 players.

Simpson was dreadful with his approach shots (-4.668) and it showed in his proximity, nearly 51 feet from the hole, which ranked 138th.

It’s more of the same for the 2018 champ, who missed the cut at the Players for the third straight year.

Billy Horschel tees off on the fifth hole during the second round of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (Corey Perrine/Florida Times Union)

Billy Horschel was cruising along at 3 under through his first nine holes of the tournament on Thursday when he made a double bogey at 10 and the wheels came off. He shot 40 for his second nine to shoot 1-over 73. Despite a birdie at his first hole on Friday, he shot 39 on the front nine again and was 5 over through 28 holes when play was suspended. It only got worse on Saturday morning as Horschel signed for a second-round 79.

Horschel missed the cut for the first time since 2017 (he withdrew after making the cut last year).

He’s missed the cut in four of his last six starts since the Sony Open in Hawaii, including two straight weeks in his native Florida.

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