Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia and David Toms were the high-profile casualties of the US Masters cut-off on Saturday.
The illustrious trio of top 10 players were almost joined by world number three Ernie Els, who was forced to sink a 10-foot putt on the last to stay in the tournament right on the four-over 148 cut.
Harrington’s chances were blighted by a freak neck strain while practising. The Irishman also has the worry of knowing his father lies desperately ill at home with cancer.
He made a valiant effort to stay in the major with a closing-hole birdie, but his second round five-over 77, to leave him on five-over 149, was a stroke too much.
Harrington, who finished fifth in 2002 at Augusta, lost his way with a double-bogey and three bogeys when going out five-over par.
“I hurt my neck on the range before I played but it was too late to do anything about it,” he said.
“I thought it would go away when I started hitting some shots, but it didn’t.
“I am not using the neck as an excuse,” added Harrington, having taken 35 putts for his round. “I can’t remember ever taking as many putts.”
Spain’s Garcia, fourth last year at Augusta, needed a two-birdie finish but could only manage to pick up a shot on his 17th hole, to also miss out by a stroke.
American Toms was four shots above the line.
Double Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal, joint second in the Bellsouth Classic last Monday, missed out by five strokes and Davis Love III was another surprise absentee from the final two rounds after falling three strokes short.
By making the cut with two shots to spare, 1992 Masters winner Fred Couples now has the joint-second-best record of 21 successive made cuts with Tom Watson, two less than Gary Player. – Reuters