The Masters Tournament always sports such a sensational field, so there are always surprise players who don't manage to make the weekend cut. Following Friday's second round at the 2014 event, there was no shortage of elite golfers who won't be teeing it up for the final 36 holes at Augusta National Golf Club.
A back-nine birdie barrage by 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson keyed a four-under-par round of 68, boosting him to seven under overall and three strokes in front of John Senden.
Thanks to a rather jumbled leaderboard beyond the ambitious pace Watson set, the top 50 and ties determined the weekend qualifiers. Among the notables who didn't land on the four-over-par mark to continue chasing the green jacket was Phil Mickelson (five over), who had won three of the past 16 consecutive Masters, making the cut in all of them, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Phil Mickelson is +3 thru 13 and fighting an uphill battle to extend his streak of making the cut in 16 straight Masters appearances.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 11, 2014
Here is a look at the complete list of players who weren't quite good enough to continue on at the season's first major championship:
Bob Harig of ESPN.com highlighted a lot of the marquee names on the wrong side of the cut line:
Lots of big names miss cut: Sergio, Luke, Phil, Ernie, Webb, Gmac, Zach, Dustin....#Masters— Bob Harig (@BobHarig) April 11, 2014
As for Mickelson, he simply made too many big numbers. Two triple bogeys and a double bogey were what really crushed him, because he played the other 33 holes rather well. ESPN's Justin Ray notes how atypical those blowup holes had been for Lefty:
Phil Mickelson in his first 82 career Masters rounds - 3 triple bogeys or worse. He now has 2 in the last 2 days.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) April 11, 2014
Before his fate was known, Mickelson remarked about his future plans if he were to miss the cut, per Rex Hoggard of Golf Channel:
If Phil misses cut he was asked if he’d watch the rest of the Masters. “I probably will. It will be my punishment” he said. #1stTimeSince'97— Rex Hoggard (@RexHoggardGC) April 11, 2014
It is downright bizarre to not have both Mickelson and Tiger Woods around on Masters weekend, but they are far from the only surprise absentees.
Two of the best players not to have won a major are Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, who came painfully shy of the cut line by one stroke. Donald was hurt by a two-stroke penalty in the first round, which he expressed displeasure about afterward:
Got a 2 shot penalty on the 9th today. Left my bunker shot in the bunker and touched the sand before my next shot. Pretty dumb mistake— Luke Donald (@LukeDonald) April 10, 2014
The former world No. 1 rallied for a 70 on Friday, but it was not meant to be.
Charl Schwartzel won the Masters in 2011 but was among the giant cluster at five over par, along with past major champions Webb Simpson and Ernie Els.
Another past Masters winner in Zach Johnson (2007) figured to thrive under the toughened course conditions thanks to his experience. However, he was unable to recover well enough from a bad opening round, posting a level par 72 on Friday to finish six over. The unrelated Dustin Johnson has the power to devastate Augusta, but his recent poor form continued with scores of 77 and 74.
Others who have been on form this season—major title winners Graeme McDowell and Keegan Bradley, along with young guns Patrick Reed, Harris English and Hideki Matsuyama—also won't be around.
On the ESPN telecast, commentator Jim Nantz remarked about how he couldn't remember the last time there were so many big names that wouldn't advance past the first two rounds. It was a rather accurate assessment of how things unfolded.
Marc Leishman was a surprise contender last year at the Masters and got as low as five under overall early in his second round, but he collapsed to miss the cut by one shot. Golf Digest's Ron Sirak outlined the damage Augusta did to the Aussie:
After starting birdie-birdie-birdie today to take the lead in the @The_Masters Marc Leishman plays next 15 holes 10 over par to shoot 79.— Ron Sirak (@ronsirak) April 11, 2014
Who will win the 2014 Masters?
Swedish star Peter Hanson held the 54-hole lead at the 2012 Masters but wound up near the bottom of the field at 15 over par—tied with the likes of Tom Watson and Craig Stadler. It just goes to show how penal Augusta can be if players don't bring their best to the course.
With all the negativity brought on by these elite players who didn't play well, there are plenty of great ones left to seek a Sunday triumph at one of the most prestigious events in golf.
Bubba Watson could win his second Masters in three years, while defending champion Adam Scott lurks just four strokes behind the lead.
Although Watson has a sizable advantage at the moment, it's really anyone's tournament to win, as CBSSports.com's Kyle Porter alludes to:
Last five second round leaders: 2013: Day 2012: Couples/Dufner 2011: Rory 2010: Poulter/Westy 2009: Campbell/Perry No winners.— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) April 11, 2014
Jordan Spieth is just 20 years old and could eclipse Woods as the youngest to win the Masters, courtesy of stellar rounds to get to three under and into a Saturday pairing alongside Scott. In stark contrast, the beloved Fred Couples has a shot at becoming the oldest Masters winner. Since he's won in the past (1992), it wouldn't be wise to count Couples (two under) out despite his advanced age of 54.
So, there are still plenty of compelling storylines to monitor over the final two rounds. Although the suspense may have been even greater with some of the bigger names who played relatively poor in the first two days, the 2014 Masters still has an immense amount of drama to offer.
Note: Statistics are courtesy of PGATour.com.