Willett misses Masters cut after bogey blowout

Charles WHELAN
Danny Willett of England plays his second shot on the fifth hole during the second round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia

England's Danny Willett became the first defending champion in 13 years to miss the Masters cut after a quadruple-bogey blowout at the start of Friday's second round.

Willett fired a one-over par 73 in the first round then returned a 78 in second for a 36-hole total of 151, one beyond the cut line at Augusta National in the year's first major tournament.

"We played a lot of good shots but... let it slip," Willett said after another day of blustery and chilly weather that made low scoring difficult.

Willett was the first Englishman to win the Masters since Nick Faldo in 1996 and becomes the first defending champion since Canadian Mike Weir in 2004 to miss the cut.

Willett hit disaster from the start Friday, taking eight shots on the treacherous par-4 first hole before sinking the putt at the third attempt.

The hole has proved to be the toughest at Augusta National this week and has been the scene of repeated heartbreak, including the famous humiliation of four-time major champion Ernie Else, who dropped five shots there last year.

Willett, who won the 2016 Masters with a bogey-free final round of 67, fired his tee shot onto the lip of a fairway bunker at the deceptively simple slight dog-leg hole.

His troubles deepened when he fired into the rough on his approach shot to the right of the green and nearly tumbled into the bunker as he lost his balance.

The 29-year-old from Sheffield twice overshot the green which is notoriously tough and described as "really challenging" by former Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia.

He added bogeys on the fourth, 11th and last hole to go seven over for the two rounds after sinking a birdie putt on the 10th.

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Willett, playing in his third Masters, already had problems on the 445-yard first hole in Thursday’s opening round, with a double-bogey six.

The Yorkshireman has struggled to maintain consistency since his Masters win last year and has failed to win another tournament.

"We hit a lot of good shots. We hit a lot of good shots all year, but haven't gotten anything," he said.

Ironically Willett, ranked 17th in the world, owes his 2016 victory to another quadruple-bogey disaster, that one by Jordan Spieth, whose meltdown on the 12th hole on the final day last year helped Willett take his victory.

In all, 53 players reached the weekend for Saturday and Sunday's final rounds.

Among others missing the cut was reigning British Open champion Henrik Stenson of Sweden with a two-round total of eight-over 152.

Two-times Masters winner Bubba Watson also failed to qualify, along with fellow past Masters champions Jose Maria Olazabal, Vijay Singh and Weir.