Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas bow out early; The World's top two players among many notable names to miss the weekend at Carnoustie
The list of players to miss the cut at the 147th Open comprises a string of former major champions including current world no.1 Dustin Johnson - who faltered over the closing hole for the second day in a row as he ended his tournament early on six-over-par.
After firing an opening round 76, DJ had a mountain to climb in the tougher, rainy and dreich conditions experienced by the early starters and he never looked like surviving - despite carding a respectable 72. He did momentarily put himself back inside the cut line with three consecutive birdies from the 13th, but ultimately gave back three shots on the 17th and 18th with a bogey, double-bogey finish.
World No.2 Justin Thomas, one of the favourites this week, failed once more to escape The Open unscathed. A two-under par opening round but him firmly in contention, but three double-bogeys in a row during his front nine on Friday left him with too much ground to make up as he crashed out with a six-over 76.
It was an unhappy Open too for another player well fancied to do well this week. Fiery Spanish star and World No.5 Jon Rahm lost his game – and cool – as he threw away shots like confetti and his club against his bag over the Angus links. Rahm looked to be in control as he moved to within three shots of the leaders at the third, but two missed birdie chances were followed by a costly drive out of bounds on the seventh, a plugged bunker shot by the eighth green and a drive in to the fairway trap on the ninth as he suddenly found himself moving from three-under to three over.
Rahm then added a further bogey and double-bogey over the next few holes, and a final-hole birdie still left him two shots adrift of the cut-line as he ended a disappointing performance in Carnoustie.
Padraig Harrington, the last Carnoustie Open winner in 2007, was optimistic of a strong defence of the Claret Jug but it failed to materialise. He faced an uphill battle after starting with a 76, and bogeys at nine and 10 dashed his faint hopes of seeing any weekend action.
It wasn't the best of Opens for a number of recent US Masters winners either. Double Augusta winner Bubba Watson won’t be adding an Open title to his list of majors while it’s been a rollercoaster of an Open for 2016 Masters champion Sergio Garcia who went agonisingly close to clinching the 2007 Open at Carnoustie. Now he must feel jinxed at the Angus venue: after seemingly turning things round with a bunch of birdies to give him a fighting chance of making the cut, a double bogey at the par 3 16th proved his downfall.
Other big name casualties included double major champion Martin Kaymer (+4) who missed the cut by a single shot, 2016 PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker (+8), and England's Ian Poulter, who had a disastrous 81 during the second round on Friday.
Meanwhile, while little known South African Zander Lombard was flourishing at the head of the leaderboard, three of his famous fellow countrymen – veteran triple major victor Ernie Els, 2011 Masters winner Charl Schwartzel and the strongly fancied Branden Grace all dipped out with the latter not even close to repeating his Open course record of 62 at Birkdale last year.
There were plenty of near-misses, too
2016 Open Champion Henrik Stenson started promisingly enough yesterday with a one-under 71, but three bogeys on his first five holes on Friday sent him in the wrong direction. Another dropped shot on the 13th push him momentarily outside of the predicted cut-line before a bounce-back birdie on the 14th - and despite a further bogey on the 17th leading to a disappointing 75, it was still enough for the Swede to stay in Scotland for two more days.
England’s main hope, Justin Rose, looked set to be going home as he struggled around Carnoustie, but he saw in a much-needed birdie-putt on his final hole of the day to guarantee his finish inside the cut-line on three-over-par. If he had missed, he’d have been out and reflecting on another Open disappointment – his best result to date is still that incredible third place as an amateur at Birkdale in 1998.
Finally, this year’s Masters champion Patrick Reed endured an up and down 2nd round but despite double bogeying the 15th, just about managed to earn the right to play over the weekend.