A disastrous finish saw Graeme McDowell fail to take advantage of a strong start at the Waste Management Phoenix Open as he missed his sixth cut in seven events, while Seamus Power also couldn’t make the weekend at TPC Scottsdale.
Despite opening with a three-under 68 on Thursday, highlighted by an 88-foot birdie putt on the par-four 17th, McDowell would bogey both of his final two holes on his way to a three-over 74 in round two which would leave him two shots on the wrong side of the cut line at level-par overall.
Power would finish one shot better at one-under, the World No.46 missing only his second cut in his last ten events as a tough week with the putter led to him only managing a one-under 70 that was one shot too many to stick around for the weekend.
Instead, they will both look to the future while sponsor’s invite Sahith Theegala takes a two-shot lead into the weekend in Arizona, the former college stand-out adding a seven-under 64 to his first round of 66 to reach 12-under, two ahead of Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele.
McDowell in particular will look back with gritted teeth as he had pulled himself back inside the cut mark after a double-bogey after finding the water off the tee on the par-four 11th left him battling to make the weekend, only to throw it away in the final two holes.
The former US Open champion was two-under standing on the 17th tee after a fine birdie putt had dropped from 20-feet on the par-three ‘stadium hole’ 16th, but he pulled his next tee shot well left and, after getting back in play from the native area, missed from 12-feet for par after an average chip.
Needing birdie down the last to get himself into the weekend, McDowell ended his hopes when he once again pulled his drive off the 18th tee and found the water, and he would eventually sign for another bogey and a 74, two shots too many.
It was another mistake off the tee on 11 that left him battling the cut in the first place, finding the water with another pulled tee shot on his way to a double-bogey, but his overall play contributed to his downfall, too, as he never capitalised on good birdie chances.
The Rathmore man saw his first two approach shots end up just 10-feet away at both the first and second, but he holed neither, before three-putting the par-five third for par in a start to his round that should have yielded so much more, with his front nine consisting entirely of pars.
Another 10-foot chance went begging at the par-five 13th, and birdie putts from 13-feet and 18-feet on the 14th and 15th respectively were outside chances at moving up the leaderboard, before his round fell apart in the final two holes.
Power, meanwhile, had one too many mistakes on the scorecard as he couldn’t get one more putt to drop, a 70 on day two not enough to secure his place on the tee-sheet for Saturday’s third round, which will be a blow to both his momentum and hopes of receiving a Masters invite in April.
The Barbasol Championship winner got off to a rough start when he chipped into a greenside bunker from just off the putting surface on the par-five third, leading to a bogey, but he got under-par with back-to-back birdies on the par-three seventh and par-four eighth.
However, needing to gain one more shot, he suffered a setback when he missed from seven feet for birdie on the ninth and then dropped another shot on the 11th when he failed to make a sand save, seeing a nine-foot par putt go wide.
He got back under-par with a birdie on the par-five 13th when he hit the green in two, but that was as good as it got for Power. He will rue a 12-footer missing on the par-five 15th and what might have been had he not driven into the water on the par-four 17th, but when a 21-foot birdie putt slid by on 18, it was game over.
At the top, Theegala started and ended his round in perfect fashion to pull ahead of the chasing pack, birdieing his first three holes and then birdieing his final two on his way to a seven-under 64 that featured three more birdies and a solitary birdie.
At 12-under, he is two clear of defending champion Koepka, who had six birdies and one bogey in a 66, and Schauffele, who was bogey-free in a 65 that has him alongside the four-time Major champion at 10-under.
Patrick Cantlay was also bogey-free on his way to a 66 that has him in solo fourth at nine-under, with Adam Hadwin, Talor Gooch and Max Homa sitting a three-way share of fifth at eight-under.
“I haven’t had time to let it set in and hopefully I don’t think too much about it because obviously what I’ve been doing has been working the first couple days,” said Theegala. “I’m just thankful that I’m here and trying to make the most out of the opportunity. No expectations at all, honestly.”
- Full scoring HERE