Southampton, New York: The look on Jordan Spieth’s face said it all after he bogeyed the final hole to miss the cut by one stroke at the US Open.
Not since he threw away the 2016 Masters, has the Texan looked as distraught on a golf course.
Appearing close to tears, he stood quietly on the side of the green and waited for Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy to finish putting at Shinnecock Hills.
McIlroy also missed the cut, but the Northern Irishman had already accepted his fate, unlike Spieth, who made a brilliant comeback with four straight birdies from the 13th hole, only to bogey the final two.
He was a little unlucky at the last, where his approach shot trickled into some gnarly rough some 40 feet above the hole, from where he fluffed his delicate chip that trickled down to within 11 feet of the cup.
He could not convert the downhill putt, missing his first cut at a major since the 2014 PGA Championship.
In 13 majors from the start of 2015, he had three wins, two seconds, a third and a fourth, the runner-up finish at the Masters two years ago the biggest disappointment in that run.
He had a quadruple-bogey at the 12th hole in the final round at Augusta National on that occasion.
Spieth had nothing to say after his round on Friday after his stellar major run came to a screeching halt, but McIlroy was more loquacious.
McIlroy found his game too late to advance to the weekend, bowing out early for a third straight US Open, but did not sound too shattered by his latest experience.
“I think I was just blown away by the wind yesterday,” McIlroy said of his opening 80, his worst score at a US Open.
“I haven’t played in wind like that for quite a long time. I just felt like I couldn’t hit it far enough left or right to allow for the wind.
“Today I hit 17 out of 18 greens. I did a lot of good stuff.
“Yesterday I just wish I could have maybe just had one day to prepare for something like that. I feel like it would have been a different story.”
Tiger Woods also missed the cut the day before the 10th anniversary of his last major title success in the latest sign that his comeback from major back surgery has stalled.
Woods expressed no doubt when asked whether he still had another major victory in him, but it was a fair question for a 42-year-old who for all his greatness has lost his putting touch and has no guarantee of ever finding it.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Have you seen the way I’ve been swinging?” He did indeed not play badly in a respectable two-over-par 72 on Friday, but the damage had been done with an opening 78 that included a demoralising triple-bogey at the first hole.
Dustin Johnson, meanwhile, closer to a second Open victory in three years, shrugging off the worst of the conditions to take a stranglehold on the title with a four-shot second-round lead at Shinnecock Hills.
“Today was really solid in some tough conditions,” Johnson said after posting a four-under 136 halfway total to head fellow Americans Charley Hoffman (69) and Scott Piercy (71).
A high-powered group of five stood next at one-over — defending champion Brooks Koepka, fellow major winners Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, plus Englishmen Tommy Fleetwood and Ian Poulter The straight-talking Poulter got within one shot of Johnson before running up a triple-bogey at his 17th hole, the par-four eighth, where he got too aggressive with a bunker shot.
After second round
(USA unless noted, par-70)
136 — Dustin Johnson 69-67
140 — Scott Piercy 69-71, Charley Hoffman 71-69
141 — Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 75-66, Henrik Stenson (SWE) 71-70, Justin Rose (ENG) 71-70, Brooks Koepka 75-66, Ian Poulter (ENG) 69-72
142 — Russell Henley 69-73, Rickie Fowler 73-69
143 — Marc Leishman (AUS) 74-69, Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG) 73-70, Charles Howell 71-72