Early exits for Woods, McIlroy
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates—Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy missed the cut at the Abu Dhabi Championship today—a woeful start to the season for the world’s top two golfers.
Woods missed it after he was penalized two shots for wrongly taking a free drop while top-ranked McIlroy was frustrated trying to adjust to his new Nike clubs—even though he used his old Titleist putter in the second round.
“When you don’t hit fairways on this golf course, you can’t score,” McIlroy reasoned.
Justin Rose played solid, mistake-free golf. Away from the large galleries, the Englishman shot a 69 for a 136 total and a one-shot lead at the halfway point over Jamie Donaldson (70) of Wales, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (67) of Spain, and Thorbjorn Olesen (69) of Denmark .
Woods and McIlroy were expected to contend for the lead but often looked like weekend golfers. Their struggles captivated the crowds and their departure means it is the first time the world’s top two players missed a cut in the same tournament since McIlroy and Luke Donald at the 2012 U.S. Open.
The last time in a regular tournament came in 2005 by Woods and Vijay Singh at Disney World.
Woods thought he was safe in finishing his second round at 73. But he was advised by the European Tour chief referee Andy McFee of the penalty, giving him a 75 and three-over total of 147.
The cut for the top 60 plus ties was two-over.
McFee said he warned Woods on the 11th tee of the penalty, which was a result of his taking a free drop when his ball was embedded in sand. It’s not allowed.
“I called Martin [Kaymer] over to verify the ball was embedded. We both agreed it was embedded and evidently it was in sand,” Woods said of the infraction that happened when his drive on five landed in a bed of vines.
McFee said Woods didn’t challenge him on the ruling. It came to light when a spectator alerted the European Tour to the infraction, he said.
Woods said it was frustrating to bow out of a tournament in this way, especially after he recovered from four bogeys on his first five holes—the fifth subsequently becoming a triple.
He birdied five of the last 11 holes, including three in a row on the back nine.
McIlroy, meanwhile, posted a second-straight 75 for a six-over total of 150.
Even a switch to his old putter for the second round didn’t help. He putted poorly, flubbed several chips, and drove erratically.