JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Darren Clarke left the PGA Championship much differently than his last major tournament.
A month ago at the British Open, Clarke was the toast of Europe, a good ol’ bloke from Northern Ireland who had persevered through tragedy and circumstance at age 42 to win his first major.
On Friday at Atlanta Athletic Club, Clarke moved quickly from the scoring tent to the clubhouse, ready to bolt as soon as possible after missing the PGA cut at 14 over par.
“I need a huge rest,” Clarke said. “I’m going to get one.”
He wasn’t sure when he’d return to golf, how he’d spend his time off or where he’d vacation. Clarke was clearly miffed about his early exit so soon after his winning his first major at Royal St. Georges.
Clarke didn’t make a birdie in 36 holes. He opened with a first-round 78 and had hoped, with a strong performance, might be able to stick around for the weekend. Instead, Clarke’s struggles continued with a second-round 76.
Clarke was in one of the tournament’s featured groups with the year’s other major champions, Masters winner Charl Schwartzel and U.S. Open winner Rory McIlroy, both who are inside the projected cut.
Clarke had said he was not distracted Thursday by McIlroy’s wrist injury, which required several visits from doctors and trainers to ensure the 22-year-old was OK to continue.
It was all part of a grind, however, that Clarke hopes to disappear from for a while.
“I won’t pick up the clubs for 10 days,” he said. “I won’t even look at them for 10 days. So I’m just mentally tired.”
LATE FOR SCHOOL: Brandt Snedeker was fully prepared for an 8:20 a.m. start time Friday at the PGA Championship. One problem: He was scheduled to tee off 10 minutes earlier.
Snedeker was on the putting green warming up when he was told he had to tee off at 8:10 and sprinted to the first hole. But it was too late and Snedeker was assessed a two-stroke penalty to finish with a 3-over 73 for the round and 7 over for the tournament.
“What I can I say, it’s embarrassing,” Snedeker said. “I feel like I’m a 2-year-old showing up late for class.”
Snedeker won the RBC Heritage title in April and had hoped to contend for his first major title this week at Atlanta Athletic Club. Instead, he’s projected to miss the cut and knows the scheduling gaffe didn’t help.
“I’m not the first guy to do it, I won’t be the last guy to do it,” he said. “I certainly never thought it would happen to me. Live and learn.”
MICHEEL’S TURNAROUND: 2003 PGA champion Shaun Micheel was right in the thick of the chase for his second Wanamaker Trophy after Thursday’s opening round 66, the best of the afternoon starters.
Micheel couldn’t keep that going on Friday and a 78 has him crossing his fingers about the weekend. He had bogey or worse on eight of his first 11 holes. He recovered with an eagle on the par-5 fifth and a birdie on the seventh that he hopes gives him a chance.
“Hopefully, the eagle kept me around for the weekend,” Micheel said.
If not, Micheel knows he’s got no one but himself to blame. He said he made several mental errors that cost him strokes during his bogey run. “It was just a frustrating day. I’m more mad, really, at the mistakes that I made,” he said. “I didn’t play a great round of golf, but I made enough mistakes that I cost myself basically four shots today, and those are difficult to swallow.”
DIVOTS: Several competitors withdrew from competition including two-time U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen, who was ill. Goosen had shot a 5-over 75 in the opening round. Also pulling out Friday were J.B. Holmes because of illness and Rocco Mediate due to injury. Neither of those players were likely to make the cut. Holmes was 10-over par while Mediate was 9 over. … D.A. Points, who stands at 4 under par after two rounds, won the Junior PGA title in 1992 and could become the second holder of that title to win the PGA at Atlanta Athletic Club. Toms, the 2001 PGA winner here, won the junior event in 1984.