- The Players Championship, Round Two
McIlroy misses Sawgrass cut, Woods surges
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy failed to make the cut at The Players Championship after once again proving that Sawgrass is not the arena best suited to showcase his talents.
McIlroy, who skipped the tournament last year and has claimed the course does not suit his game, posted a second-round 76 to move to four over.
Tiger Woods, who sits at two under following a 68, will play the third round, however.
Woods caught fire around the turn with a run of four straight birdies from eight to 11, the best of which came at ten when he fired his approach shot to five feet. Woods' ball-striking was excellent, and vindication for the changes implemented under coach Sean Foley, although few would confidently predict that trend will continue into the weekend, given how erratic his game has been of late.
Matt Kuchar, Kevin Na and Zach Johnson are at the head of the field at eight under, one shot ahead of Harris English and two ahead of several players at six under, including Scotland's Martin Laird.
McIlroy usurped Luke Donald as the world's top-ranked player on Monday, but could not carry that momentum forward as he failed to conquer one of the toughest tracks on the PGA Tour circuit.
The day actually began promisingly for McIlroy as he birdied the tenth, his first hole. However, from then onwards it was a sorry tale: he failed to find enough greens to create birdie opportunities, and his putting was not sharp enough to make up for the deficiencies in his iron play.
Five bogeys ensued as his chances of making the weekend receded fast, and he will appreciate the need for drastic improvement ahead of the US Open next month, which he will begin as defending champion.
"Off the tee I find pretty difficult around here," McIlroy said. "You have really got to position your ball in the fairway and to give yourself at least a chance to get to some of these pins. I just didn't do that over the last couple of days."
While McIlroy foundered, Donald got moving, grabbing eagles at 16 and two - holing a 23-foot putt at the latter - before stumbling home with three bogeys in his final seven holes. Nonetheless, his current position of three under gives him a platform to spring from over the next two days.
Lee Westwood joins his fellow Englishman at three under after a 70 that was let down by his putting: he has now taken 60 swings of the short stick through 36 holes, a state of affairs which is hampering his bid for the title.
Ian Poulter, the overnight leader, went into reverse gear early on and never managed to claw his way out of the quicksand. The Englishman, so impressive when finishing seventh at The Masters last month, double bogeyed two of his first four holes on his way to signing for a 76, which leaves him three under.
England's Brian Davis is six under, six shots ahead of Justin Rose, while Rickie Fowler (four under) will be eyeing back-to-back wins.
Phil Mickelson is two under, as is Martin Kaymer. Ernie Els, Steve Stricker and defending champion KJ Choi all missed the cut.