Rory McIlroy misses the cut as defending champion at TPC Boston
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 03/09/17 5:18pm
Rory McIlroy missed the cut as a defending champion for the second time in his career as he bowed out of the Dell Technologies Championship after a 74 on day two.
McIlroy stormed to a memorable two-shot win over Paul Casey at TPC Boston 12 months ago with a closing 65 to lift the title for the second time, his first coming in 2012, and he went on to claim the $10m bonus as FedExCup champion when he edged out Ryan Moore at the fourth extra hole of the Tour Championship on the eve of the Ryder Cup.
But he now needs a strong performance in the BMW Championship in a fortnight just to make it into the 30-man field for the season finale in Atlanta as he is projected to slip seven places to 50th in the current FedExCup standings.
The 28-year-old failed to build on an encouraging start in Boston as he opened with a 72, and he was again out of sorts in all departments of his game in the second round.
McIlroy missed from seven feet to begin with a bogey at the 10th, although birdies at 12 and 14 hauled him back to level par for the tournament before his frailties with the putter resurfaced at the 15th, where his three-footer par-saving attempt lipped out.
The four-time major champion then blocked his drive way right at the 18th and was forced to take a penalty drop as he ran up a bogey-six, and McIlroy came up short with a wedge from the fairway at the first and failed to get up and down.
A birdie at the long second got him safely back inside the cut line, but he pulled his drive into more deep trouble at the fifth, took another penalty drop and scrapped his way to a six which saw him slide to four over.
McIlroy missed excellent chances for birdie at the next two holes, and two closing pars were not enough to avoid his second missed cut while defending a title following his early exit at the 2012 US Open.
But there was better news for Paul Casey and Justin Rose, who are both firmly in contention for the second half of the tournament after the English pair fired superb 65s.
Casey will go out in the final group with leader Jon Rahm and Canadian Adam Hadwin after he birdied three of his last four holes to get to seven under, and he is determined to maintain his challenge for a first win in almost three years.
"I feel like I have some unfinished business around this place after last year, but it's a cracking leaderboard," said Casey, who needed only 25 putts for his round. "It's not going to be any easier, but my game is in good form and everything's falling into place."
Rose is two strokes further back after he picked up five shots over the last seven holes, and he added: "Last week I saw some good signs. I hit the ball really well last week, especially my iron play, and today made a few putts, which was nice. You don't feel like you have to stiff it every hole to make a birdie.
"I feel like this year my iron play hasn't been where I wanted it to be and last week I switched to some softer shafts in my irons, and that really paid off. This week, I haven't hit my irons quite as good yet but I'm definitely gaining some confidence."