He was at the top of the class for most of 2010 and the early part of this year. But Graeme McDowell suddenly finds himself with a heavy workload as the Masters examination looms large.

As expected following his eight over 80 in the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Ulsterman missed the cut comfortably when he posted a one-over 73 at Bay Hill on Friday.

Five shots outside the cut mark on nine-over par, McDowell told his Twitter followers: “Not good enough today Tweeps. Damage done yesterday (understatement). Game is a little off the boil. Got some hard work planned next 10 days.”

Looking at the statistics, a dangerous move at the best of times, McDowell drove the ball better than most (71.4 percent accuracy) but his iron play was scrappy by his high standards (52.8 percent of greens in reg.) and his putting abysmal (2.053 putts per green in reg. and 32.5 putts per round).

Fortunately for the US Open champion, his coach Peter Cowen will be in Florida next week and the pair will have several days to iron out the kinks before the first major of the season. At least, that’s the plan.

Tiger Woods will also be hoping that his second round 68 is a sign that his game is coming round in time to give him a chance of challenging for a 15th major at Augusta National.

But he will have to produce two more good rounds if he is to contend for a seventh title at Bay Hill, where the ever-improving Scot Martin Laird leads by a stroke from Spencer Levin (70) and KJ Choi (64) following a wonderful 65 on Friday.

Woods is six shots behind in a share of 10th place with Sergio Garcia on three-under.