Rory McIlroy again crashed out of the Players Championship, golf’s richest event, at Sawgrass last night.
McIlroy, who two years ago revealed his dislike of the Pete Dye-designed layout, missed the halfway cut for the third successive time in the £5.8million tournament after a 76 left him four over.
The 23-year-old, expecting so much more of himself this time after being in a play-off at Quail Hollow last Sunday, started his round with a 17-foot birdie putt.
But that was as good as things got. He bogeyed the short 13th, had to settle for par on the 16th after also going in the drink and then dropped further strokes at the 18th, first and fourth.
McIlroy’s fellow Irishman Graeme McDowell, who led by three late in the third round last year, was in danger of missing by one on one over. Pádraig Harrington joined McDowell on one over, giving himself an outside chance of making the cut with a last-hole birdie.
McIlroy’s exit opened the door to Luke Donald and Lee Westwood to take over the number one spot again and both head into the weekend on three under.
Donald eagled the 16th and second but then undid some of his good work before a closing birdie on the ninth.
“It could have been a special round,” he said.
“I am quietly optimistic. I think this course is only to get tougher and eight or nine under could be a good score come Sunday.”
Westwood, who also birdied the ninth for a 70, said: “I didn’t play as well as yesterday, but shot one better – that’s golf.”
* A seventh hole double bogey spoiled Colm Moriarty’s chance of playing all four rounds of the Madeira Islands Open.
Moriarty, competing in his first Tour event this season, went into the second round after a superb first day 67 on the mountainous Santa da Serra course.
However with a double and two bogeys over his outward half it was all beginning to turn pear-shaped for the Athlone golfer.
Moriarty did regroup with birdies at 11 and 12 but bogeys at his final two holes in a round of three over par 75 saw him finish at two under, one outside the cut.
Also missing the cut was Newcastle’s Simon Thornton who carded a second round 72 for a four over par tally.
The highlight of Thornton’s round came with an eagle at the par five 11th hole, but in bizarre manner. His drive at the downhill hole cannoned off a tree and back up the fairway leaving him 270-yards to the flag.
He then drilled a fairway wood to just six feet and rolled in the eagle putt.
And returning to his job as Head Pro at this week’s host course is Galway’s Dara Ford who carded scores of a pair of 78s.
However that was not near as bad as Portugual’s Edgar Rodrigues who was in last place with rounds of 86 and 90 for a 32-over par tally.
England’s Oliver Wilson heads the event by one stroke with scores of 66 and 65 in a bogey free display, and as the former Ryder Cup star seeks to end of run of nine second place results and captures a first Tour victory.
“I again played really nice,” said Wilson.
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