AVONDALE, La. -- Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson have proven a formidable duo in the Ryder Cup, combining for a 4-2 record playing together.
That success didn’t translate to this week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans, however. The two missed the cut by a stroke after combining to finish two days of alternate shot and fourballs at six under at TPC Louisiana.
“Surprising, yeah, no doubt,” Rose said Friday. “We were hoping for much better than that.
“Speaking to a few guys, you either really get into the rhythm of this tournament, you make the putts and everything feels fine and you’re vibing. For us, we kept fighting it, fighting the momentum. That’s what killed us. That puts the pressure on the birdie putts when you do have them, and suddenly they become critical.”
Still, they had a chance to sneak in on the number playing the 18th.
With one of them needing to make birdie to advance both rinsed their second shots at the par 5, Stenson doing so with a 4-wood from 257 yards and Rose with a 1-iron from 233 yards.
Laying up never entered Rose’s mind, he said.
“The left bunker was a good miss,” Rose said. “That’s where you should be missing. They were poor errors.”
And just one of many over two days for the Olympic gold and silver medalists. They made four bogeys en route to an even-par round in Thursday’s alternate-shot format.
“You want to be in the hole for two chances [at birdie] as much as possible,” Stenson said. “At times we didn’t live up to that. We left each other hanging on a few occasions. That’s not gonna make it any easier to make birdies when you know your partners not in there with a chance as well. I had a bunch of chances, but didn’t make them.”
They weren’t the only high-profile names that failed to advance. Jason Day and Rickie Fowler finished two strokes outside the cut.
“The conditions were tough, and we didn't get enough birdie opportunities for ourselves,” Day said. “Obviously it was playing tough out there, but you really can’t expect to hit it to 20, 30 feet all day or even more and hole putts for birdie. It played very, very difficult with regards to getting it on the fairway, and if you’re not on the fairway, then you’re coming out of rough or you’re coming out of a bunker.”
Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith had much less difficulty. Teeing off in the morning wave and calmer winds, the two combined for a 62 to get to 15 under and the top of the leader board.
One shot back are Patrick Reed and Patrick Cantlay. They also shot 62 Friday.
K.J. Choi and Charlie Wi are tied for third, an amazing story in and of itself given that Wi essentially retired from the tour golf at the end of last year. Troy Merritt and Robert Streb at 13 under, while Jordan Spieth and Ryan Palmer are among six teams another stroke back.
Saturday the format will switch back to alternate shot, and the wind is expected to blow even stronger with gusts as high as 30 mph.