The defending champion, Dustin Johnson, led a high-profile exodus from the 85th Masters, after the 36-hole cut fell at three over par at Augusta National. Johnson, the world No 1 who marched to victory at 20 under par here in November, was plus five after rounds of 74 and 75.
Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Sergio García, Jason Day, Patrick Cantlay and Im SungjaeIm Sung-jae – who tied second to Johnson late last year – were afforded an identical fate. Although destined for a missed cut anyway, Matthew Wolff was disqualified on Friday evening having signed for a lower score than he had delivered at the 17th hole of his second round.
“Obviously I wanted to be around for the weekend,” Johnson said. “I like this golf course. I feel like I play it very well. I just didn’t putt very good. It’s pretty simple. Six three-putts in two rounds, you just can’t do that,” he continued. “Obviously I didn’t drive it great but drove it good enough, and I felt like I never was really too bad out of position, just the three-putts killed me. You take all the three-putts away, I’m one under. That was kind of the difference. I just didn’t putt very well.”
Koepka’s scenario can be readily explained by the undergoing of knee surgery just last month. Not that the four-times major winner was placated by extenuating circumstance. “How disappointed do you think I am?” Koepka asked. “I worked my ass off just to get here and then to play like this is pretty disappointing.”
Koepka, who matched Johnson’s score, suggested he may not play competitively again before the next major of the year. The US PGA Championship takes place at Kiawah Island in late May.
“I wouldn’t have been playing for another month if it wasn’t this week,” he added. “So I’ll take a nice long break after this. Way I look at it, I have two more days to do rehab that I probably wouldn’t get if I was out here, and I’ll get ready for the PGA.”
García missed the cut by one, largely due to a Thursday 76; the 2017 champion signed for 72 in the second round. “I think I played great,” he said. “It’s just hard to know what to say. I felt like the way I played today, I should have never shot more than two or three under par. That should have been my worst score, and somehow, I don’t know why, it just wouldn’t happen. I couldn’t shoot one more shot than I shot today, the way I played.”
McIlroy, who hadn’t missed an Augusta cut since his second Masters appearance of 2010, did not appear for post-round media duties. Friday’s 74 was two strokes better than day one. Kiawah may provide respite; McIlroy won the US PGA by eight there in 2012.