Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy missed the cut at the Abu Dhabi Championship in the United Arab Emirates on Friday, 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. Both finished with 3-over 75s.
“When you don’t hit fairways on this golf course, you can’t score,” McIlroy said.
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.
“I didn’t hit it particularly well. I putted great but just didn’t hit it very good. I was struggling with that,” Woods said. “I have some work to do, and next week I’m playing at Torrey (in San Diego), and obviously it will be different weather there, so going to go back and get ready.”
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 3-over total of 147. The cut for the top 60 plus ties was 2 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 5 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. After the drop, a reporter heard some spectators questioning whether the drop was appropriate.
James Hahn and Roberto Castro remained atop the Humana Challenge leaderboard, shooting 5-under 67 in the pro-am tournament in La Quinta, Calif.
Hahn and Castro were 14 under after another day of perfect conditions in the Coachella Valley.
Phil Mickelson shot a 67 on PGA West’s Jack Nicklaus Private Course after opening with an even-par 72.
LONG PUTTERS ON AGENDA
The PGA Tour has invited Mike Davis of the U.S. Golf Association to speak at the mandatory players’ meeting next week at Torrey Pines.
A proposed rule that would ban the anchored stroke used for long putters is on the agenda.