An early US Open departure for Day and McIlroy
ERIN, Wis. (AP) Jason Day was walking away from Erin Hills with his wife and son when he managed to find one positive about this U.S. Open.
''Guess what?'' he said to 4-year-old Dash. ''We get to go home today because Daddy played poorly.''
That's something Day, the No. 3 player in the world, rarely says at a major.
He was a long shot to make the cut Friday after opening with a 79, his worst score ever in a U.S. Open, and he removed any suspense when he hit a wedge over the green at No. 2 (his 11th hole) and then started hitting his tee shots in the hay.
Day shot a 75 for a two-day total of 10-over 154, ending at 17 the longest active streak of making the cut in the majors. The last time Day missed a cut in a major was the 2012 PGA Championship, just a month after his son was born.
He never would have guessed it.
''I felt the most calm I have in a major in a long time this week,'' said Day, who arrived last Friday. ''And just unfortunately, this didn't pan out.''
It didn't for Rory McIlroy, either.
McIlroy, the No. 2 player in the world, also arrived last Friday having missed the last month to rest a nagging rib injury. He loved Erin Hills, a course with wide fairways between the knee-high fescue that he figured would allow him to attack. If only he had hit the fairways.
McIlroy was never in the short grass from the 11th hole to the end on Thursday when he opened with a career-worst 78, and he didn't do nearly enough in the second round until it was far too late. And even that was frustrating.
Sure, he birdied four of his last six holes to salvage a 71 and finish at 5-over 149. But he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie chances in that stretch, and one of the birdies he made was a two-putt from 20 feet on the par-5 seventh.
''Show up for the last six holes, anyway,'' McIlroy said.
It was the second straight year McIlroy missed the cut at the U.S. Open.
McIlroy dismissed the notion of being rusty before the tournament, but conceded on his way out of Wisconsin that he hasn't played nearly enough. He missed nearly two months at the start of the year when he was diagnosed with a slight rib fracture, and then the latest break after The Players Championship.
The U.S. Open was only his sixth start this year.
''I think at the end of the day, it's competitive rounds and get the card in my hand,'' McIlroy said. ''And I've been very light on competitive rounds this year, and it's just a matter of getting into a good round of golf now.''
His schedule will pick up immediately. McIlroy is headed for the Travelers Championship next week in Connecticut, and he has three straight tournaments starting with the Irish Open through the British Open.
''Even though it's very disappointing to not be here on the weekend, I think these last two rounds will serve me well going into the summer,'' McIlroy said.
They weren't alone in an early exit.
Bubba Watson, using a pink golf ball one day and lime green the next, shot 75-73 and appeared certain to miss the cut. PGA champion Jimmy Walker missed the cut as he continues to recover from Lyme Disease.
Day thought his game was perfectly suited for Erin Hills. He is long and straight off the tee and an excellent chipper from closely mown areas around the green. But he wasn't doing much of anything right, especially off the tee.
''The biggest thing about this course is that the fairways are massive,'' Day said. ''But when you're visually looking down the fairway, I think when you're trying to aim at a target at a normal golf course, with normal width fairways, there's some pressure into hitting the fairway because it is a lot narrower than we have out here. And I think with everything so large, your target is larger and your misses get even more extreme.
''Being out of position off the tee does not help,'' he said. ''The execution was not there.''
He also said he might have been rattled by starting out Thursday afternoon knowing that Rickie Fowler had already posted a 65. By Friday, that was no longer a concern. Over the final few holes, with Justin Rose struggling to try to make the cut and McIlroy finally playing well, Day was simply trying to stay out of the way.
''With where I was hitting it,'' he said with a smile, ''I wasn't in the way.''