Tiger Woods. Picture Fran Caffrey/www.golffile.ie.Graeme McDowell might just go out on the course and give Rory McIlroy some moral support when his friends heads out with a two stroke lead in the third round of the Masters.

But the 31-year old Ulsterman, who missed the cut by two strokes after another poor putting display, warned his Ryder Cup partner that Tiger Woods is looking “ominous” after getting a front row view of the four-time champion’s second round 66.

Woods is lurking just three strokes behind McIlroy on seven under par, tied for third place with KJ Choi and apparently peaking at exactly the right time as he chases his 15th major victory.

Asked if he had seen the Tiger of old on the fairways on Friday, McDowell said: “I don’t really know who the Tiger of old is. I never had the pleasure of playing with him. But he looked good today. He looked really, really good today. Especially when he birdied eight, nine and 10 and really got things going.

“He hit some beautiful looking shots coming down the stretch and controlled the ball well. He is really starting to flight his irons great again which is what he does when he is at his best.

“He got the putter going as well. He hasn’t been putting well lately but he putted good. He looked ominous today.”

While Woods took just 26 putts in his round, McDowell had 34 and 70 in total for the two days to finish his week ranked joint last in the 99 strong field for putting.

“The damage was done yesterday a little bit to be honest,” McDowell said. “Today was perhaps the best I’ve hit the golf ball all year. I made some great swings today but I struggled on the greens today a little bit.

“I just got nothing going today. My pace was awful and I couldn’t get a putt to the hole up the hill and I was very clumsy down the hill.”

McDowell went to the turn in one under par - mixing birdies at the second and seventh with a solitary bogey at the short six.

That left him right on the one-over par projected cut mark before he racked up a triple bogey six at the par-three 12th when he overshot the green and lost his ball in the pine straw.

Playing partners Woods, Robert Allenby and their caddies joined the frantic search for McDowell’s Srixon but it was in vain.

Returning to the tee, he overshot the green again, chipped 15 feet past with a hybrid club and missed the putt.

An eagle three at the 13th gave McDowell hope again, leaving him one shot outside the mark. But the he three-putted the par five 15th for par and then dropped a shot at the 17th when attacking the pin and bowed out early at Augusta for the third time in four visits.

“Twelve was just the killer blow for me,” said a bitterly disappointed McDowell. “I felt like I hit a decent shot in there with the exact flight I was looking for, a little hold up 165 yard seven iron just left of the pin.

“We didn’t see the ball down and we figured it was just over the back but we went up there and it was just left of the bunker, plugged in the pine straw and gone forever.

“We couldn’t find the ball so I had to go back to the tee and made another great swing and made bogey off the second ball. So it was a real maximum penalty off a decent shot. I then eagled 13 to get myself back in it but a clumsy three putt on 15 and then I went pin hunting on the 17th because I knew I needed a birdie.

“It’s just disappointing. The way I putted at Bay Hill and the way I putted here were probably my two worst putting tournaments in many years. So I need to have a little look at that.”

McDowell has two months to get ready for his US Open defence at Congressional and believes he will soon be rolling the ball well on the greens again. Fortunately, not every course has putting surfaces as severe as those at Augusta National.
 
“As I said I hit the golf ball as well as I have for years out there today but I just didn’t have it on the greens.

“These greens are ultimately some of the trickiest greens you face all year and I just couldn’t get any momentum going, couldn’t get the ball going at the right speed.

“It was just a bad putting display the last two days. As I say, my ball striking is back and that has been the part which has been eluding me a little bit for the past couple of months and I have worked hard on that in the past couple of weeks.

“I desperately wanted to play another two rounds here on the weekend just to get 36 holes more under my belt, just to feel the confidence round here because I have really enjoyed playing this golf course over the past two days. It’s been a lot of fun.”

As for McIlroy, McDowell promised that he would be rooting for his friend.
 
“He’s done really well and in fact I might go and watch him play a few holes tomorrow,” he said. “If I am not out on the golf course, I will certainly be watching him on TV.

“It is fantastic to see him playing so well and I have said it many, many times. He is such an impressive player and I will be pulling hard for him over the weekend.”