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Woods misses first major cut as a pro

Written by: Staff
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MAMARONECK, New York, June 17 (Reuters) Out-of-sorts after the longest break of his career, Tiger Woods missed his first ever cut at a major as a professional at the US Open.

Playing his first tournament in nine weeks following the death of his father, the world number one struggled to a six-over-par 76 in the second round at Winged Foot Golf Club yesterday.

Spraying the ball off the tee and never at ease with his putting on the contoured greens, Woods ran up two double-bogeys on his outward nine before finishing at 12-over 152.

The halfway cut fell at nine over par, with 63 players qualifying for the weekend.

''I didn't execute properly today,'' a subdued Woods told reporters after failing to qualify for the weekend at a major championship for the first time in more than a decade.

''I didn't drive the ball all that great, didn't hit my irons well and didn't read the speed on the greens. So not a good combo.

''I thought I was playing well enough to shoot an under-par round today, and I didn't do that,'' added the 30-year-old American after missing his first cut in a major since joining the professional ranks in late 1996.

''I thought if I kept plodding along I could turn it around with one putt or one shot but it is playing really hard out there.

''The golf course is very difficult and the wind is up now, just like it was yesterday afternoon. Marginal shots are just going to get killed here, you get penalised more so than at any other Open.'' Twice champion Woods had not played competitive golf since tying for third at the Masters in April, following the death of his father Earl on May 3.

RECORD RUN The 10-times major winner is motivated by setting new benchmarks in the game but had to accept the end of a record run of 39 consecutive major cuts he shared with golfing great Jack Nicklaus.

''It's not something you want to happen,'' said Woods, whose only missed cut at a major came as an amateur at the 1996 Masters.

''I've gone a while without missing one. Unfortunately I missed this one. Hopefully I can win the British (Open at Hoylake in July).'' Under pressure to resurrect his US Open hopes after opening with a 76, Woods parred his first four holes before double-bogeying the par-four 14th and par-four 16th.

He collected his only birdie of the day at the par-four 17th, sinking a curling 20-footer, before reaching the turn in three-over 38.

Struggling for accuracy off the tee on a tight layout, he dropped further shots at the fourth, where he three-putted, and at the eighth, after failing to reach the green in two.

He then bogeyed his final hole, the par-four ninth, following another three-putt.

Woods missed the cut in a PGA Tour event for only the fourth time in his career. He ended a record run of 142 consecutive tournaments in the money at last year's Byron Nelson Championship.

He also failed to qualify for the weekend at the Funai Classic last October and the 1997 Canadian Open.

REUTERS DH RAI0659

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