R-Mac first since Norman in 1996

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Rory McIlroy is the first World No 1 to miss the cut at The Players since Greg Norman in 1996.

Rory McIlroy is the first World No 1 to miss the cut at The Players since Greg Norman in 1996 – but he wasn’t the only big gun that got the chop on Friday night.

Pete Dye’s TPC Sawgrass stadium course with its 24 water hazards and 93 bunkers can be treacherous at the best of times and especially to those who find it as uncomfortable to play as McIlroy admits he does.

You can safely say that its not everybody’s cup of tea and the large numbers of highly-ranked players who accompanied the 23-year-old Northern Irishman in making an early exit can certainly attest to this fact.

Hunter Mahan, who leads the FedExCup standings and is the only two-time winner so far on 2012 PGA Tour, also went home early after shooting a second-round 76 that included a pair of double bogeys.

So too did Steve Stricker, a top tenner in the World Rankings and the Hyundai Tournament of Champions winner whose long run of cuts made successfully finally ended just one short of 50 on Friday.

Webb Simpson, who ranks ninth in the world, also failed to make the weekend as did Korean stalwart KJ Choe, this year’s defending champion.

And the list goes on with 2012 US PGA tournament winners Brandt Snedeker, Kyle Stanley and Mark Wilson along with 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell and three-time major winner Padraig Harrington also crashing out on an especially bad day for Ireland.

It wasn’t a good day for South Africa, either.

Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, both two-time major winners, and Louis Oosthuizen, the runaway Open Champion in 2010, were other who didn’t make it

Ben Crane, who was in contention after a first-round 67, and veterans Davis Love III, a two-time Player champion and current US Ryder Cup captain and Vijay Singh, another former World No 1, are three more who won’t be playing any more golf at Sawgrass this week.

One former World No 1 – indeed the man who holds the record for the longest stay on top of the Rankings – Tiger Woods, was, on the other hand, one of the seventy-two players who did make the cut which came at even-par 144.

Woods survived thanks to a solid second-round 68 that put him at 2-under 142, just six shots behind co-leaders Zach Johnson, Kevin Na and Matt Kuchar.

Talking about the course afterwards, Woods said: “You just have to hit the ball well all week, All of Pete’s golf courses do that to you, whether it’s here or Whistling Straits or maybe this year at Kiawah (for the PGA Championship). You just can’t fake it around this place.”

For McIlroy it was his third M/C in as many appearances at The Players and he was not exaggerating when he said the course had never suited his eye.

On Friday he couldn’t get anything going in his second round, which ended with five bogeys and a birdie and saw him tweet shortly before taking a flight out to Rome. “Another MC at TPC for me this year! Hopefully next year I’ll see the golf course in person at the weekend, not just on tv! #4th time lucky”

LATE FLASH:

Two days before the start of the US Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco on June 14, Rory McIlroy is to throw out the first pitch at a San Francisco Giants game.

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