AS IT STANDS -7 Rose; -6 Zalatoris, Harman; -5 Spieth, Leishman; -4 Wiesberger, Thomas, Finau, Kim, Champ. SELECTED OTHERS -1 DeChambeau; E MacIntyre; +5 Koepka, Johnson, Westwood; +6 McIlroy
For the first time since 2010, and only the second time in his career, Rory McIlroy has missed the cut in The Masters.
The four-time major champion compounded the worst first round of his career in the tournament – an abject 76 – with an error-strewn 74 to finish on six-over, three shots outside the cut line
McIlroy was one of a number of high-profile players not to make it to the weekend. Dustin Johnson, for example, now has the dubious distinction of being the shortest-lived Masters champion in history, his missed cut coming less than five months after he won the Green Jacket.
Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Jason Day also saw their involvement end after two rounds.
However, it was the display of McIlroy – for whom yet another opportunity to complete the career grand slam has gone a-begging – that will attract most scrutiny.
The Northern Irishman recently teamed up with acclaimed coach Pete Cowen in a bid to rediscover his best form. On the evidence of the last two days in Augusta, there is much work to be done.
McIlroy hit only 57% of his fairways, below the field average of 69%. It was a similar story in terms of Greens In Regulations: 52% for McIlroy versus the field average of 60%.
Of course, if he is looking for evidence of how quickly things can change in this game, he could do worse than look to halfway leader Justin Rose.
The Englishman has only posted two top-10 finishes since the PGA Tour resumed from its COVID-19 hiatus last June and has slipped to 41st on the world rankings. On his most recent start prior to this week, he was forced to withdraw from the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a back injury.
And yet you'd never know this week.
After a super seven-under 65 on day one, Rose recovered from a sloppy start on day two to post a level-par 72, maintaining his advantage at the top of the leaderboard.
"Sleeping on the lead last night makes it much easier tonight and then much easier tomorrow, and hopefully by Sunday you're starting to get into the week and you're starting to get comfortable with it," said the former US Open champion after his second round. "That's why I think today ultimately was a fairly good result in the end. But my goal was to play freely with it, and thought I did a pretty decent job with it, and hopefully that becomes even more instinctive tomorrow."
Playing freely. What Rory McIlroy would give for a bit of that.