Sunday Times

Johnson fails to make it into Masters pantheon


● 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.

But he’ll be at Augusta, Georgia today to hand over the green jacket to the new champion. Johnson had some notable company in exiting early, with Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka sent packing, 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.

Koepka, only a month removed from knee surgery, also lamented poor putting, though he still found time to say hello to leading NFL player Larry Fitzgerald next to the 17th green.

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.

Jose-Maria Olazabal turned back the clock to make the cut at the age of 55, dedicating his wardrobe to fellow Spaniard Seve Ballestero­s on what would have been the late great’s 64th birthday.

Olazabal, the 1994 and 1999 Masters champion, used his guile and renowned short game to card a second-round 71 for a two-over-par 146 halfway total.

“I am wearing navy blue and white, which are the colours of Seve,” said Olazabal, who formed the most successful duo in Ryder Cup history with Ballestero­s.

“I know that making the cut is not such an extraordin­ary thing, but I want to dedicate this accomplish­ment to him and all those people who have left us over the last year,” Olazabal said.

“I think Seve would be happy. I miss not having him here for a big hug. I’m a little emotional. I have to say wholeheart­edly that making the cut has been a primary goal in recent years. When you see the years going by and you don’t get it, it gets tough.”

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Dustin Johnson, left, and Jose-Maria Olazabal had very different experience­s at Augusta, Georgia this week.
Outputt and inputt Dustin Johnson, left, and Jose-Maria Olazabal had very different experience­s at Augusta, Georgia this week.
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