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Rory McIlroy misses cut at THE PLAYERS Championship

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Jerry Kelly, 56, becomes oldest to make final two rounds

    Written by Staff @PGATOUR

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Rory McIlroy needed a spectacular finish to the rain-delayed second round of THE PLAYERS Championship on Saturday morning.

    He didn’t get it, playing his last eight holes in 1 under and falling three shots short of the cut line.

    The 2019 PLAYERS winner never looked comfortable in his brief stay at TPC Sawgrass, his struggles with the driver (just 13/28 fairways hit) and on the greens (deep in negative numbers in Strokes Gained: Putting) yielding scores of 76-73.

    “Yeah, just very blah,” said McIlroy, who along with half the field resumed his second round in sweater weather at 7 a.m. Saturday. “Yeah, I guess the course, you just have to be really on to play well here. If you're a little off, it definitely magnifies where you are off. It is, it's a bit of an enigma. Some years I come here, and like it feels easier than others.

    “It's just a tricky golf course,” he continued, “and you don't hit fairways and you've got your work cut out for you.”

    Even a new haircut, which he got some time after players were cleared from the course Friday afternoon, didn’t help.

    “I needed one,” McIlroy said of the haircut. “That’s all there is to it.”

    Meanwhile, Jerry Kelly, 56, became the oldest player to make THE PLAYERS Championship cut when the number moved from 1 over to 2 over par.

    Others who benefited from the late movement of the cut line included Justin Thomas (73-73), who birdied the difficult, par-3 eighth hole, his second-to-last hole Friday, to get through on the number; Shane Lowry (77-69); and Tom Kim (74-72).

    The players who will not be around for the last 36 holes include:

    Reigning U.S. Open champ Matt Fitzpatrick (76-71), who couldn’t overcome a rough opening round.

    Kurt Kitayama (73-76), who captured his first PGA TOUR title at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard last weekend, came a couple hours north and lost his mojo.

    Nico Echavarria (71-79), who was also a first-time winner last weekend, at the Puerto Rico Open.

    Hayden Buckley (73-74), who aced the par-3 17th hole Thursday but saw his fortunes go south soon after.

    McIlroy, the third-ranked player in the world, was coming off a T2 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. At the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, however, he opened the tournament with a double bogey and never really got back on track.

    This marks McIlroy’s first missed cut since he failed to make the weekend rounds at the FedEx St. Jude Championship last August. He won the FedExCup two weeks later. His next start will come at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play in two weeks.

    “Just a little untidy here and there,” he said. “… In fairness I've been maybe trying to push the driver a bit too much up the fairway here rather than just taking a couple of clubs less and hitting 5-wood or 3-wood or 2-iron or whatever it is.”