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Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Will Zalatoris among notables to miss cut at THE PLAYERS

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    Written by Sean Martin @PGATOURSMartin

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The comebacks of Will Zalatoris and Justin Thomas have been among the biggest storylines of 2024. They will not continue this weekend, however, after both players missed the cut at THE PLAYERS Championship.

    Thomas shot 71-74, while Zalatoris finished at 4-over 148 (73-75). They were the biggest names expected to miss the 36-hole cut, which is projected to fall at 1-under par when the second round is completed Saturday morning.

    TPC Sawgrass is known for its volatility, but Thomas had been one of the most consistent performers at this event. This will be his first missed cut in nine PLAYERS appearances. He was third here in 2016 and won THE PLAYERS five years later.

    Thomas made nine birdies over two rounds but also had eight bogeys and one double. Seven of those birdies came in the opening round, when he also had four bogeys and a double. Thomas made just two birdies Friday. Over two rounds, he hit just 15 of 28 fairways, losing strokes off the tee (-1.5) and on the greens (-3.4). Thomas missed seven putts from inside 10 feet in two rounds, including three inside 5 feet.

    After missing the FedExCup Playoffs for the first time in his career in 2023, Thomas started this year by finishing in the top 12 in four of his first five starts of the year.

    Justin Thomas on being more appreciative of his game

    Zalatoris also is coming off a difficult 2023. He missed most of the year after having back surgery last April, but his comeback appeared to be ahead of schedule after he finished runner-up at The Genesis Invitational in February and fourth at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.

    Zalatoris’ continued success in the game’s biggest tournaments and his elite iron play made him a player who was expected to excel this week, but he is headed home after failing to break par in either round. He had a double-bogey on the par-4 seventh hole Thursday and a triple on the fifth hole Friday. Like Thomas, Zalatoris lost strokes off the tee and on the green.

    Other players who will miss the cut include 2015 FedExCup champion Jordan Spieth (74-72) and two players who won twice last season: Keegan Bradley (72-78) and Lucas Glover (75-69).

    Also heading home early are PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year Eric Cole (72-74), Farmers Insurance Open champion Matthieu Pavon (70-77) and The American Express champion Nick Dunlap (77-70), who earlier this year became the first amateur in more than three decades to win on the PGA TOUR. Nicolai Hojgaard, the youngest player at last year’s Ryder Cup and winner of the 2023 DP World Tour Championship, shot 73-76.

    Byeong-Hun An, who entered the week ranked fifth in the FedExCup, shot 69-80. He wasn’t the only player to have a double-digit swing between the first and second rounds. Michael Kim shot 68-80 to miss the cut.

    Past PLAYERS champions Webb Simpson (2018) and Matt Kuchar (2012) also missed the cut. After making a birdie and bogey on the previous two holes, Simpson missed a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole to miss the cut by one. He is in the final year of his exemption from his PLAYERS victory. After playing his first three holes of the tournament in 4-under, Kuchar finished 2-over par for the week (74-72).

    Steve Stricker, winner of last year’s Kaulig Companies Championship (formerly the Senior PLAYERS) also will not be around for the weekend. Stricker shot 72 on Thursday and was 1-under par for the tournament after a chip-in eagle at the par-5 second (his 11th hole of the day). He made bogey on three of the next four holes, however, falling three strokes short in his attempt to become the oldest player to make the cut.

    Steve Stricker holes out for eagle at THE PLAYERS

    As usual, the 17th hole played a role in determined who would be around for the weekend. Min Woo Lee, who played in Sunday’s final group at last year’s PLAYERS, holed a 60-foot birdie putt on 17, the second-longest putt made on that green since ShotLink started measuring in 2003. He made the cut without a shot to spare after a bogey on 18.

    Min Woo Lee buries a 60-foot birdie putt on No. 17 at THE PLAYERS

    Contrast that to Justin Rose, who also arrived at 17 on the cut line. He hit two shots into the water – his tee shot and then his attempt from the drop area – en route to a quadruple-bogey 7. Rose had finished in the top 10 in two of his previous three PLAYERS appearances.

    Ryan Fox missed the cut a day after making PLAYERS history. On Thursday, he became the first player in PLAYERS history to make consecutive eagles after doing so on Nos. 16 and 17. He shot 69 on Thursday but 76 on Friday.

    Sean Martin is a senior editor for the PGA TOUR. He is a 2004 graduate of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. Attending a small school gave him a heart for the underdog, which is why he enjoys telling stories of golf's lesser-known players. Follow Sean Martin on Twitter.

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