2011 Masters: Which Big Names Missed the Cut and Why

Todd Pataky@@PittsburghToddCorrespondent IApril 9, 2011

2011 Masters: Which Big Names Missed the Cut and Why

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    Two days of the 2011 Masters are in the books and some noteworthy players are booking flights out of Augusta, Ga. instead of thinking about their Saturday pairing.

    Scoring conditions on Thursday were gorgeous with bright sunshine and little wind to speak of. It really doesn't get much easier to play Augusta National.

    Friday there was less sun, but still very little wind. There were still excellent scoring conditions.

    The cut came at two-over (par).

    So what happened? How did these men, marquee names to say the least, not find a way to make their way to weekend play?

    Why are they leaving early?

    Let's find out.

Graeme McDowell

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    The defending U.S. Open champion was done in by a very cold putter and two of the hardest holes on the course.

    McDowell made a double bogey on the par-4 10th in the first round, which is an excusable error. The hole is very difficult and was the fifth-hardest hole on that day.

    He also made a double on the par-three 12th on Friday. The famous par three over Rae's Creek has claimed more than its share of victims over the years. It was the second-hardest hole on the course on both opening days.

    McDowell played well enough tee-to-green, hitting 80.6 percent of the fairways and 78.6 percent of the greens in regulation, but simply could not get his putter going.

    Taking 70 putts in two rounds at a major championship is no way to make the cut.

Stewart Cink

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    The Champion Golfer of 2009 (as they call the man who wins the Open Championship) was done in by one simple fact: He didn't hit the greens in regulation.

    Around Augusta, there are really only three things you have to do to play well. Those are hit it long, hit the right places on the undulating greens and putt well.

    Augusta is not a course that you can scramble on and make a good score unless your name is Phil Mickelson.

    Cink putted very well. He had 56 putts for two rounds. That's only 28 putts per round.

    And he hit it plenty long, averaging a touch more than 290 yards off the tee.

    The problem is that he hit 50 percent of the greens in regulation.

    That is not nearly good enough. What is amazing is that he only missed the cut by a single stroke. Clearly, he was grinding, but just couldn't seem to get out of his own way.

Padraig Harrington

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    Harrington is a three-time major champion, but has been out of his form for a while now.

    This week he suffered a similar fate to Graeme McDowell: he simply could not buy a putt. Chances are he didn't find the proper areas of the greens, which can happen very easily around the large, undulating greens of Augusta.

    He hit 72.2 percent of the greens in regulation, but had 68 putts. That is about 10-to-15 more putts than a pro would usually like to have for two days.

    Also, he double-bogeyed the closing hole both days, and threw in a double on seven in the first round for good measure.

    There are plenty of birdies, and even some eagles, to be made at on this course, but if you are not hitting the right places on the greens and can't get up and down when you miss a green, you are going to have a very short stay at Augusta.

Retief Goosen

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    Another multiple-major champion, Goosen started off as if he was going to run away with this tournament and not look back.

    He opened Thursday with an eagle on the first, back-to-back birdies on three and four, and another birdie on the eighth hole. He was five under for his first nine holes. 

    Over the course of the next 27 holes, he would come completely unglued.

    He would close his opening round with three straight bogeys, but had a respectable score of 70.

    However, he would only hit 47.2 percent of the greens in regulation for the two rounds. He had a decent number of putts—27 for each round—but all that means is he was making a lot of bogey putts.

    As with many before him, Goosen discovered Augusta is not a course that you can scramble on and make a good score.

Martin Kaymer

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    The No. 1 player in the world coming into this year's Masters was done in on Thursday when he posted a six-over 78. 

    Given that Kaymer has never made the cut in three previous playings at the Masters, maybe we shouldn't be surprised that he is heading home early.

    Primarily a left-to-right player who has trouble turning the ball over to the left, Kaymer would have trouble on several holes at Augusta. In particular, he would struggle on three of the four par-5s, which require a right-to-left shot for either the tee shot or the approach to the green.

    Anyone who has played the Masters will tell you that you must take advantage of the par-5 holes. He played them four-under and that includes a bogey on the second hole in the first round. By way of comparison, defending champion Phil Mickelson, four-time champion Tiger Woods, and tournament leader Rory McIlroy have not made a bogey on any of the par-5s between them.

    Kaymer's inability to hit a right-to-left shot would always give him trouble around Augusta. I will be surprised if he ever does well at Augusta until he learns to hit a reliable draw shot.

Mike Weir

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    Getting around Augusta under par really comes down to two things: You must hit the greens in the right places and you must make putts.

    Weir had only 58 putts for his two rounds, which is a good for 29 putts per round, but he hit only 12-of-36 greens in regulation.

    What that means is that a lot of those putts were for bogey.

    He only played the par-5s one-under. Those are the holes you must take advantage of on Augusta. They are set up to allow players to go for them in two. This is in contast to the other majors, which seem to frown on birdies and eagles.

    Worse yet, he seemed to get on bogey runs and could not stop the bleeding. In both rounds, he had bogeys on three consecutive holes, and in the second round he played a stretch of 10 holes at four over without a single birdie.

    As a former winner of this tournament, you would expect him to get around a little better, but it seems to be clearer with each passing year that his Masters win may have been more a fluke than anything.

Louis Oosthuizen

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    It's amazing that the only man who won a major last year and made the cut at this year's Masters is the defending Masters champion, Phil Mickelson.

    Oosthuizen, the current Champion Golfer of the Year, hit plenty of greens in regulation, but could not find a way to get the ball in the hole. When you hit 80.6 percent of the greens in regulation, you would expect to make more than three birdies in 36 holes, but that is all Oosthuizen could manage.

    This is a classic example of how hitting the greens is not enough at Augusta. You absolutely must hit them in the right places or you have almost no chance of two-putting, let alone making birdies.

    At Augusta, it is better to be six feet below the hole than two feet above it, and it can take years for players to figure that out.

    In three trips to the Masters, Oosthuizen has not made the cut yet. It seems he still has some studying to do on these tricky greens.