Sunday, July 22, 2018

Players Championship notebook: Jordan Spieth misses cut

PONTE VEDRA BEACH — A four-week break did not cure Jordan Spieth's Masters hangover. It prolonged it.

For two rounds at the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, Spieth still was not himself four weeks removed from a final-round collapse at Augusta National that cost him a second straight green jacket.

Spieth could not overcome a rusty game and a testy demeanor, missing the cut by a stroke. He finished his weather-delayed second round Saturday morning with 1-under 71 that left him at 1-under 143.

More than anything, Spieth's putter betrayed him. Spieth, who rode his putter to wins at the Masters and U.S. Open in 2015, finished 122nd in the 144-player field in strokes gained putting. He needed 59 putts. Playing partner and 36-hole leader Jason Day needed 48 and bested Spieth by 14 strokes. "If I putt anywhere up to the standard I normally putt … I'm 6 or 7 under," Spieth said. "I just had a couple of days where I just kind of lost a little control of it."

Spieth said he also lost control of his emotions at times. "In the off days, I just need to do a little better job of being positive … and smiling a bit more, having a bit more fun," he said. "And it's tough when you're getting shellacked by 15 shots in the same group, you know?"

'EPIC FAIL:' Russell Knox arrived at the famous par-3 17th hole with the island green 8 under and on the fringe of contention in Round 3. The Scot then hit three balls in the water en route to sextuple-bogey 9, tied for the fourth-highest score on the hole.

"I guess I don't know what to say," said Knox, 30, who attended nearby Jacksonville University. "I mean, that was an epic fail."

After his third ball from the tee hit the water, Knox headed to the drop zone, from where he finally found the green before holing "an awesome putt for a 9."

"It's just difficult. You're so nervous. You've got thousands of people laughing at you," he said. "It's a very uncomfortable feeling." Knox finished with 80, which put him at 1 under.

Rory dazed: After finishing his round of 75, Rory McIlroy joined the chorus of players questioning the course setup and conditions. He was among the many who struggled on the slick greens, taking 37 putts. He fell from the fringe of contention to 5 under for the tournament. "I mean, it's like a U.S. Open out there. I can't really describe it any other way," he said. "That was borderline unfair on a few holes."

Irish LEGEND dies: Christy O'Connor Sr., an Irish golfer who played on 10 straight Ryder Cup teams and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, died Saturday at 91. No other information was available. Mr. O'Connor, whose career spanned four decades and who was known as "Himself" because of the way he embraced life, won 24 times on the European tour. He held the record for Ryder Cup appearances until Nick Faldo surpassed him in 1997.

The Golf Channel contributed to this report.