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Ragged Rory McIlroy fails to shine once again

 

By Adam McKendry

The fearsome 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass proved too much for Rory McIlroy as his hopes of making the cut at The Players Championship ended when he found the water around the famous island green.

While runaway leader Webb Simpson blistered around in a course record-tying 63, McIlroy's hopes of making the weekend ended when his ball spun back into the drink at the penultimate hole.

Having slipped down the leaderboard in the early stages of yesterday's play, the Holywood man threatened a late fightback to make the cut with birdies at the 12th, 14th and 16th.

But the resurgence came too late, with the World No.8 missing the cut at Sawgrass for the first time since 2012 when his ball came up short at 17.

McIlroy's round looked to have got off to a solid start, if not the promising one he may have hoped for, as he carded six consecutive pars.

However, bogeys followed at the seventh and the tricky par-three eighth to drop the former World No.1 over par for the first time this week.

He recovered with what was an expected birdie at the par-five ninth, only to immediately give the shot back at the 10th.

With the cut flirting with two under, McIlroy was having to go hunting for birdies and, while that paid off with gained strokes at 12, 14 and 16, it cost him with a bogey in between at the 13th.

And ultimately the mistake came at the 17th - his shot woefully short of the putting surface and, although the ball landed safe initially, the backspin sent it and McIlroy's hopes of making the weekend to a watery grave.

Undoubtedly the day belonged to former US Open champion Webb Simpson, whose sparkling round of 63 tied the course record and gave him a five-shot lead over Charl Schwartzel, Patrick Cantlay and Danny Lee.

His round contained nine birdies - including a run of six consecutive gained strokes from the 11th to the 16th - and an eagle at the second, and could have been even better had he not found the water at the 17th, leading to a double-bogey five.

High-profile casualties on day two included Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama and Phil Mickelson.

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