AUGUSTA, Ga. – Danny Willett is the first defending Masters champion to miss the cut since Mike Weir did in 2004 and Willett became only the fifth defending champion to do so in the last 25 years.
Willett missed the cut by only one shot at 7-over-par 151, but he was a combined 6 over par on the first hole alone. He began his title defense with a double-bogey 6 on Thursday and opened with a quadruple-bogey 8 on the second round.
“You’re still a Masters champion,” he said. “There’s still pressure that you put on yourself that people, I guess, put on you to kind of play well. It’s been a tricky 12 months, but we haven’t played great golf.”
Joining Willett on the sidelines for the weekend are Henrik Stenson, Patrick Reed and Masters champions Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson.
On the other end of the spectrum, Ernie Els, likely playing in his last-ever Masters after two heartbreaking runner-up finishes her in his career, followed an opening 72 with a 75 and is tied for 19th place.
A lot was made of Fred Couples run near the top of the leaderboard but 59-year-old Larry Mize made the cut exactly 30 years after he won his lone green jacket.
“It’s always great to play the weekend,” Mize said.
Two amateurs – U.S. Amateur champion Curtis Luck (T-45) and U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Stewart Hagestad (T-19) – made the cut.