Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri slumped to a mid-round tumble as he missed the cut for the third time in as many starts at the Players Championships at Ponte Vedra. Starting with a solid 69 under his belt, he looked even stronger with two birdies in first seven holes, but it literally went downhill after that and he finished at 75 and an even-par total that ended his campaign.
But Tiger Woods, who went out around an hour after Lahiri, battled to a 71 after a 72 on the first day. His total of 143 held up against the cut line, but not before world number two Justin Thomas (70) and world number four Jordan Spieth (68) bogeyed the 18th, allowing Woods and some others to squeeze inside the cut line.
Rory McIlroy (71-74), who seemed like making it till he hit the water on 17th, Phil Mickelson (79-73) and Rickie Fowler (74-71) were among the big names to miss the cut. Jordan Spieth (75-68) and Justin Thomas (73-70) also squeezed in on the cut line.
Meanwhile, leader Webb Simpson flirted with a chance for a 59 through a botched up shot on the Par-3 17th’s Island Green saw him end at 63, still enough to tie the course record.
Lahiri faltered in the second round after making a great start with birdies on sixth and seventh, which saw him rise to 5-under and Tied-7th at that early stage on Friday.
A missed par-putt on eighth saw him drop his first bogey on the day, but the ninth may well have been the turning point of the day. The bogey on par-5 ninth after missing par from 12 feet was a disappointment.
Then came a three-putt on 10th and that ruined the day and the round. The short birdie miss on 11th and then a bad swing on par-3 15th, which Lahiri called “pretty much the only bad swing all day” were followed by a bogey on 16th, which was the final straw.
“It was like a two-shot swing, from a chance for birdie to bogey,” Lahiri said. Still, Lahiri did well to par the 17th and 18th and he ended at T-81. “I did not wake advantage of the Par-5s like I should. I did not put myself in the right positions and I allowed the momentum to slip away after being 2-under through 7 in the second round. I three-putted on nine and allowed things to get away from me on 10 and 11 and so on,” said Lahiri, who 3-putted four times in the second round.
The derailment with three bogeys — including a missed 12-footer for par on ninth and a three-putt from seven feet on 10th — plus a four-foot missed putt for birdie on 11th saw Lahiri fall. He birdied 12th but doubled the Par-3 15th, where he went into the water and bogeyed 16th too. He parred the 17th and 18th and carded 75, which did not prove enough.
Leader Simpson seemed to be holing from everywhere. He holed a 35-footer for eagle besides another 30-footer and a 27-footer for birdies among his nine birdies and an eagle. Then his sand wedge on 17th saw the ball hit the wooden frame on the front of the green, bounce high in the air and hit the back of the green with so much force that it rolled through the rough and fell into the water.
Simpson’s 63 gave him a five-shot lead over Charl Schwarzel (66), Patrick Cantlay (68) and Danny Lee (66), while Chesson Hadley (69), Charles Howell III (67) and Alex Noren (69) were Tied-5th.
Overnight co-leader and world number one Dustin Johnson struggled to a 71 and was Tied-11th alongside Sergio Garcia (69) and Adam Scott (68).