Green might dominate the landscape at Augusta National but it wasn’t a good omen as Ireland’s trio of hopefuls crashed out of the 74th Masters in bitterly disappointing fashion.
With Padraig Harrington heading home on five over par after rounds of 74 and 75 and Rory McIlroy two shots worse after a 74-77 return, Irish eyes were focussed on Ulsterman Graeme McDowell.
The Portrush native had fought back brilliantly from a nightmare start to post a opening 75 but after a brilliant two under par front nine left him one stroke inside the projected cut mark, he limped home in four over par 40 for a 74 that left him alongside Harrington on five over par.
“Obviously I am disappointed. I made four doubles in two days, three of them from nowhere and you just can’t do that round this golf course,” McDowell said. “I actually played quite well today but 10 was inexcusable – I had a good chance to get up and down for a four there and made six and then 15 I laid it up but you are so scared of putting it the water that you go to the back of the green and take another four to get down from there for another double.
“I am frustrated because I played well enough today to make that cut and my game is there or thereabouts but my short game really let me down this week. This golf course is a brutal test and the pins are a lot more treacherous today and if you get in the wrong side in this place it will bite you hard. I walk away learning more and more about this place every year things away from this week.
“My short game needs to improve if I want to go up a gear. It doesn’t get me out of trouble when it should and I am throwing shots away around the greens. I look at the top of the leaderboard and Ian Poulter and know that my tee to green game is as good as his but his short game is way better and that is why he is leading the tournament.”
After a bogey at the first, McDowell fought back in typically tenacious fashion by holing 10 footers for birdies at the third and fifth before chipping in for another birdie from the back of the par-five eighth.
He strode purposefully to the 10th tee, high fiveing a caddie acquaintance as he passed the scorers hut on the way. But two and a half hours later he would stand in the same spot a disappointed man.
He double bogeyed the 10th to slip to three over for the tournament, birdied the par-five 13th with a crisp pitch to six feet and then crashed and burned with a bogey at the 14th and that painful seven at the 15th