Spieth out, McIlroy in contention

PACIFIC PALISADES (California) • World No. 1 Jordan Spieth crashed out of golf's Northern Trust Open on Friday with fellow American Jason Kokrak leading by a single shot and Rory McIlroy firmly in the mix after the second round.

Reigning US Open and Masters champion Spieth bounced back from the worst opening round of his career with a three-under 68 - 11 shots better than Thursday - but still missed the cut.

The Texan said that sloppy iron play and not enough practice time on the driving range caused his downfall but he vowed not to brood over his disappointment at the Riviera Country Club.

"I will be ready to go in the next tournament. I am not going to let this one get to me very much," he said. "We rebounded in perfect form last year on just about every missed cut. We'll be fine."

It was just the third missed cut in the 22-year-old's past 20 worldwide starts and the first time he has missed one since last year's Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston in September.

Tiger Woods has the all-time record for most consecutive cuts made - 142.

Long-hitting Kokrak surged up the leaderboard with a 64 to finish at 132 after 36 holes in the US$6.8 million (S$9.6 million) US PGA Tour event.

Chez Reavie fired a 67 and is alone in second at 133. American Dustin Johnson, who finished second to Bubba Watson at Riviera in 2014 and lost a sudden-death play-off to James Hahn last year, shot a 66 and was tied for third with Watson (68) and Troy Merritt (66) on 134.

World No. 3 McIlroy had another solid round of 69, leaving him tied for seventh at 136.

Spieth was hoping to use the event as a stepping stone ahead of defending the Masters title at Augusta National. But a disappointing 79 in the first round put him 12 shots back of McIlroy.

"I guess Rory is considering this as the start to his run at the Masters," Spieth said of the first Major of the season that begins on April 7. "This was not my start to the run at the Masters. Mine will start the next time."

Spieth plans to take this week off and then compete at the World Golf Championships Cadillac Championship at Donald Trump's Doral course in Florida.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 21, 2016, with the headline 'Spieth out, McIlroy in contention'. Print Edition | Subscribe