As play resumed at Muirfield Village Golf Club on Saturday, three reigning major champions were on the practice range or back home scratching their heads. Rory McIlroy, Keegan Bradley and Bubba Watson were all washouts after soggy second rounds left the U.S. Open and PGA champs at 6-over and the Masters titleholder at 5-over -- all on the wrong side of the 3-over cut line.
With a third consecutive missed cut on his resume and the defense of his U.S. Open title looming, McIlroy, particularly, had to be concerned about his erstwhile game. The golfer some of his colleagues deemed "the next Tiger Woods" during his convincing 2011 Open win, began the week at Jack Nicklaus' tourney with a quadruple-bogey on Thursday but found a way to post a 1-under 71. Friday, however, he lost any semblance of a clue when he carded a 7-over 79 -- the second time in his previous three rounds that he put up such a hideous number (he scored the same in the second round of last week’s BMW PGA Championship as well).
McIlroy will try to put things together at next week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic, but with his Open defense starting the following week, it’s difficult to imagine how the 23-year-old who had the world by the Titleists after his record-breaking display at Congressional Country Club will figure it all out by then. Even he was at a loss for what to do next -- hang around and pound balls or head to Memphis early for next week’s tilt?
“I’m not sure yet,” he told reporters Friday about his plans for the immediate future. “It's supposed to be pretty cool here the next couple days. To be honest, I'm not sure. I haven't thought that far ahead. Just getting over this, and the practice facilities here are pretty good, so I might stay around and hit some balls here.”
Meanwhile, the actual Tiger Woods was aiming for his second win of the season, as he was set to begin his third round just one shot off another Rory’s (Sabbatini) 6-under lead.