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McIlroy, Woods duds in debuts

Tiger Woods checks his ball on as Martin Kaymer leans in and confirms it’s embedded. But what they missed was the sand.

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Tiger Woods checks his ball on as Martin Kaymer leans in and confirms it’s embedded. But what they missed was the sand.

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy missed the cut at the Abu Dhabi Championship on Friday, a woeful start to the season for the world's top two players.

Woods missed it after he was penalized two shots for wrongly taking a free drop; 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 69 for 8-under 136 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 in the PGA Europe event but often looked like weekend golfers. Their struggles captivated the crowds, and their departure means it's the first time the world's top two missed a cut in the same tournament since McIlroy and Luke Donald at the last year's U.S. Open. The last time in a regular tournament was 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," 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 Round 2 with 73, but he was advised by European Tour chief referee Andy McFee of the penalty, giving him 75 for 3-over 147. The cut was 2 over.

McFee said he warned Woods on the 11th tee of the penalty, a result of his taking a free drop when his ball was embedded in sand and not in vines as it appeared.

"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 No. 5 landed in a bed of vines. "Andy ruled I broke an infraction, consequently got a two-shot penalty. Andy feels the way he feels about it and I broke the rules."

Kaymer said he thought the ball was embedded and was surprised to hear of the ruling.

"I didn't know about it, and he obviously didn't know about it, otherwise he wouldn't have done it," Kaymer said.

McFee said Woods didn't challenge him on the ruling. It came to light when a spectator alerted the tour to the infraction, he said. After the drop, a reporter heard spectators questioning whether the drop was appropriate.

McIlroy posted a second straight 75 for 6-over 150. Even a switch to his old putter for the second round didn't help. He putted poorly, flubbed several chips and drove erratically.

"I didn't putt well again, so they were the two areas of the game; nothing was really on" he said. "One of those things. I've got a few weeks off to work at it and try and get my game in decent shape for the U.S."

PGA: James Hahn and Roberto Castro remained atop the Humana Challenge leaderboard, shooting 5-under 67 for 14-under 130 at the pro-am event in La Quinta, Calif. They began the round tied for the lead with Jason Kokrak. Hahn had four birdies, an eagle and a bogey at La Quinta CC. Castro had the lead alone at 16 under but bogeyed two of his last three holes on PGA West's Arnold Palmer Private Course. Phil Mickelson shot 67 after opening with 72, nine behind the leaders and two off today's projected cut.

Champions: David Frost shot 7-under 65 for a one shot lead after the opening round of the Mitsubishi Electric Champion­ship in Ka'upulehu-Kona, Hawaii. Fred Couples and Tom Kite led a group of six at 66.

McIlroy, Woods duds in debuts 01/18/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 18, 2013 9:56pm]

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