Peter Uihlein came to his final hole Friday knowing that he needed a par to make the cut at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Instead, he walked away with a disappointing bogey, one whose ramifications may reach beyond the Middle East.
Uihlein entered this week at No. 66 in the latest world rankings, precariously on the bubble for a spot in next month's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. A made cut in Dubai would have likely secured the 24-year-old enough world ranking points to clinch a berth in the 64-man field, but Uihlein struggled to a 3-over 75 on Thursday and then watched as his final approach Friday found the grandstand surrounding the ninth green. Despite a 4-under 68 in the second round, his 36-hole total of 1-under 143 left him one shot outside the cut line.
Uihlein reached as high as No. 60 in the world following the WGC-HSBC Champions in November, his first career WGC start, but finished 34th among a 36-man field at the Volvo Golf Champions earlier this month and missed the cut two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi.
Now the former U.S. Amateur champ will have to play the waiting game to see if he will earn a crack at Dove Mountain in three weeks' time. Unable to improve his standing in the rankings before the Feb. 10 cutoff to finalize the Accenture field, Uihlein will now be vulnerable to players passing him with high finishes in Dubai, Phoenix or next week at Pebble Beach. Chief among those threats currently is fellow American Brooks Koepka, who teed it up this week ranked No. 93 in the world but now sits in second place through two rounds, just one shot behind Rory McIlroy.
Uihlein's chances of making the field in Arizona will be improved somewhat by several notable names opting out. Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson have both made it clear that they will skip the season's first WGC event, while reports this week indicate that world No. 1 Tiger Woods will follow suit. Spots vacated by players will be filled based on the Feb. 10 rankings, beginning with the 65th-ranked player.