AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) – Dustin Johnson’s quest to join an exclusive group of back-to-back Masters champions ended lamely when he bogeyed the final two holes and missed the halfway cut on Friday.
He had some notable company in exiting early, with Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka sent packing from Augusta National, but it was Johnson’s poor performance that most disappointed the local fans.
He grew up nearby across the state border in South Carolina, barely an hour’s drive along the Interstate 20 freeway, and arrived here with high hopes of emulating Jack Nicklaus (1965-66), Nick Faldo (1989-90) and Tiger Woods (2001-02).
But Johnson made a long three-putt bogey at the penultimate hole to fall outside the cut line and needing to birdie the last, he drove into a bunker and was unable to reach the green with his second shot.
He shot 75 for five-over 149, missing the cut by two shots, and blamed poor putting for his demise.
“Six three-putts in two rounds, you just can’t do that,” he said. “You take all the three-putts away, I’m one-under.
“My speed was awful. I just left it short from 10 feet there on the last hole.”
Koepka, only a month removed from knee surgery, also blamed poor putting for his demise, though he still found time to say hello to leading NFL player Larry Fitzgerald next to the 17th green.
“How disappointed do you think I am?” Koepka said when the question was posed after he carded a five-over 149 total.
“The putter was ice cold. I didn’t make any putts. They felt good coming off the face, but they didn’t even sniff it.”
Koepka said he would take a long break in a quest to rehabilitate his knee for the next major, the PGA Championship next month.
McIlroy, meanwhile, missed the Masters cut for the first time since 2010, with his hopes of completing the career grand slam dashed for another year.
His fate was sealed by a penalty stroke after a sliced approach shot into shrubs at the 10th hole led to a double-bogey.
He shot 70 for six-over 150.
(Reporting by Andrew Both)