7 surprising players to miss the cut at the Players Championship
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — On the PGA Tour, Sunday afternoon is generally when you crown a champion.
But at TPC Sawgrass this year, Sunday afternoon was just when they made the cut.
As this year’s Players Championship stretched into its fourth day, conditions improved and scores steadied. As a result, the players who were finishing their second rounds on Sunday morning held a distinct advantage — an estimated three shots — over the wave of players who had battled treacherous conditions on Saturday.
The cut line itself was not without drama. With the top 65 players and ties making it to the weekend, the magic number sat at one over par for most of the day. For a while it seemed as though the line would depend on the finish of Peter Malnati, who was one over as he played the final stretch of holes. But then Scott Piercy, who had seemed safely inside the number at two under, dunked two in the water and made quadruple-bogey 7 at No. 17 to singlehandedly move the number to two over. As a result, several big names including Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler were through to the third round.
Still, there were plenty of pros who didn’t fare as well. Given the strength of the field and the unpredictable nature of the course, it’s inevitable that great golfers always miss the cut at the Players. But this week’s conditions seemed to target even more top pros than usual. Here are seven who finished on the outside looking in.
Pros who missed the Players cut
Collin Morikawa (73-75, +4)
Where it went wrong: Unlike several other members of this list, Morikawa didn’t flame out in dramatic fashion — and he only missed the cut by two shots. It’s tough to ignore the fact that he both his tee shots at 17 into the water, even though he got up-and-down both times for a pair of classy 4s. In truth, Morikawa’s tournament unraveled as a result of bad tee time luck and a relatively pedestrian performance with his irons.
How surprised were we? Considering Morikawa came in as a betting favorite, we’re pretty surprised. And it was unsettling to see golf’s current ball striking king hit short irons in the water twice in the same day. Still, it feels like everybody who teed off in the late wave gets a pass this week.
Patrick Cantlay (72-77, +5)
Where it went wrong: Cantlay was right on the edge of the cut line as he came to the 17th hole on Sunday afternoon — but his hopes disappeared into the water just left of the green. That triple bogey doomed his chances.
How surprised were we? This was a shocker considering Cantlay hasn’t missed a cut since last year’s Open Championship and has contended more often than he hasn’t since then. Unlike most members of this list, Cantlay also played in the more favorable early-late wave. Chalk this one up to the strangeness of TPC Sawgrass during a particularly strange week.
Jordan Spieth (72-79, +7)
Where it went wrong: Around the greens. Spieth lost more than three shots to the field chipping and putting in his second round alone. The weather (understandably) didn’t agree with him on Saturday, and he made six bogeys and a double against just a single birdie.
How surprised were we? Pretty surprised. Since the beginning of 2021, Spieth has only missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open (where he’s missed it twice). So it was a shock to the system seeing him miss the number by five — though much less surprising given his draw.
Xander Schauffele (73-78, +7)
Where it went wrong: On No. 18. On Saturday, Schauffele began an unpleasant day at No. 17. He opened with a bogey — and then made quadruple-bogey 8 at No. 18, a hole that included a top, a splash and a chip that spun off the green. Just a couple hours later Schauffele played the hole again in his second round, found the water again and made triple-bogey 7. One hole, two rounds, seven over par. That’s some damage.
How surprised are we? Very surprised. Schauffele had made 17 cuts in a row, after all, and usually avoids big numbers. Watching him flame out so spectacularly was strange. But (broken record alert) he was in the worst sector of the worst wave. He’s forgiven.
Tony Finau (76-75, +7)
Where it went wrong: On Thursday. Finau played in the best weather of the week but struggled to four-over 76. No bueno.
How surprised are we? We continue to be surprised with Finau’s start to 2022; he now has three missed cuts and zero top-25s in his last six starts.
Matthew Wolff (72-81, +9)
Where it went wrong: On Sunday. Wolff’s second round began with four bogeys in a row. He made a triple bogey at No. 10. He made a double bogey at No. 18. Wolff hit just three of 14 fairways on the day, lost more than four shots off the tee and finished by depositing his iron into the lake left of 18.
How surprised are we? Not shocked, unfortunately. TPC Sawgrass doesn’t set up particularly well for Wolff and his game has been all-or-nothing of late. In eight starts this season Wolff has either finished inside the top 20 or outside the top 60.
Brooks Koepka (72-81, +9)
Where it went wrong: No. 17 on Saturday. Koepka made two trips to the island green and required 11 shots to get there, making double-bogey 5 in his first round and triple-bogey 6 in his second. Add in double bogeys at 4 and 14 and you start to see how we got to 81…
How surprised are we? We’ve grown accustomed to uneven performances from Koepka in PGA Tour events, so it’s not shocking to see him have an off-week. Perhaps this is the best evidence yet that the Players hasn’t yet risen to major-championship status.