At Quail Hollow, Woods a lost cause
Nick Watney answered what he referred to as a wake-up call at the Wells Fargo Championship by taking the lead.
Tiger Woods might need one after missing the cut.
Watney had gone nine straight rounds on the PGA Tour without breaking 70 and had failed to crack the top 10 in all nine of his stroke-play tournaments this year. He worked hard to change that, and it paid off Friday at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., with an 8-under-par 64 that gave him a one-shot lead over Webb Simpson going into the weekend.
A two-time winner last year, Watney had failed to crack the top 30 in a full-field event this year, and missed the cut in New Orleans for his first weekend off at a tournament since July.
“I think last week was a wake-up call for me,’’ Watney said. “Who knows what’s going to happen this weekend, but I’m really excited for it. More hard work, and hopefully I’ll be in this position a lot more.’’
Woods wound up in rare position, on the wrong side of the cut line.
He failed to make a birdie on any of the par 5s or any hole on his back nine, missing a 4-foot birdie putt on his 17th hole with the cut on the line.
Woods wound up with a 73 - his eighth consecutive round in the 70s - for an even-par 144 to miss weekend play by one shot.
It was only the eighth time in 267 events on the PGA Tour that Woods missed the cut, and the first time it happened at the same place twice.
“This is one of my favorite tour stops, and unfortunately, I’m just not going to be around for the last two days,’’ Woods said.
Watney was at 12-under 132 and will play in the final group with Simpson, who had a 68. Watney is staying with Simpson, who lives about a mile away. One side benefit from his 64 was that he has a bet with his host that high score takes out the garbage each day.
Rory McIlroy celebrated his 23d birthday Friday with a birdie on his final hole for a 68 that kept him in range, just six shots back. McIlroy nearly missed the cut two years ago until an eagle on his 16th hole of the second round allowed to make it on the number. He went on to win the tournament.
Woods won’t have such a chance, though he did have some luck - a bizarre ruling on the par-5 fifth hole in which he never found his ball and didn’t get penalized. His second shot went well left, over the gallery and into the trees. There was a mad scramble to surround the ball, but when Woods arrived, the ball was nowhere to be found.
Rules official Mark Russell spoke to spectators who said they saw it land, and considering the open terrain, determined a fan had taken the ball. Woods was given a drop with no penalty instead of going back to the fairway for his fourth shot. He wound up with a par.
Champions - Tom Lehman had an eagle and five birdies on the first eight holes on the back nine, then bogeyed the par-4 18th for a 7-under 65 and a one-shot lead after the first round of the Insperity Championship in The Woodlands, Texas.