Fast exit at wind-swept Sawgrass for Faldo's Ryder Cup stars

Last updated at 18:45 10 May 2008

Nick Faldo, Europe's Ryder Cup

captain, and many of the players

expected to make his team were

given plenty to think about after a

dreadful first two days of The

Players Championship left many

prominent names taking an early

flight home.

Open champion Padraig Harrington,

world No 10 Justin Rose and

recent Ryder Cup team-mates Lee

Westwood, Paul Casey and Niclas

Fasth missed the cut as tricky

winds gusting up to 35mph around

the Stadium Course at Sawgrass, in

north Florida, caused havoc.

Meanwhile, one of Faldo's predecessors,

Bernhard Langer, showed

he might still have another Ryder

Cup appearance left in him by producing

a round that he described

as almost 'perfect'.

Harrington, who has twice finished

runner-up in the US Tour's

showpiece event, bogeyed six of

his last seven holes in a second-round

78 while Rose, still struggling

with a back problem, failed

to complete a tournament for the

third successive time following his

slump at the US Masters.

He was unable to recover from a

first-round 78, which left him near

the back of the field.

Westwood also shot 78

but in his second round

while Casey was consistently

off the pace

with rounds of 77 and


Fasth, who put himself

in contention with a first-round

69, was one of many to plummet on

day two with a 79 that sent him

crashing out of the tournament.

Their consolation was that there

were other similar stories as only

four of the world's top 10 survived.

Five of them missed the cut, while

world No 1 Tiger Woods was absent,

recuperating from knee surgery.

US Open champion Angel Cabrera,

in contention after a first-round

70, slumped to an 81, while former

US PGA champion Rich Beem hit

his ball into the water four times in

the last four holes to record an 80.

As the survivors set out yesterday,

there were some unexpected

names at the top of the leader-board.

Forty-seven year-old American

Kenny Perry, who has not won

for three years, had a one-shot lead

over 50-year-old Langer, 43-year-old

Paul Goydos and Sergio Garcia,

the baby of the group at

28. While first-round

leader Garcia showed that his woes

on the greens have not been completely

solved — his second-round

74 included 33 putts — Langer's

effort was remarkable.

The former Ryder Cup captain,

who has won twice on his debut

season on the Champions Tour,

overcame pains in his lower back,

groin, left knee and left shoulder to

shoot a best-of-the-day 67.

He is the only member of the

Famous Five — the others, of

course, are Faldo, Seve Ballesteros,

Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam —

still going strong.

But surely he

cannot be in the reckoning for an

11th Ryder Cup at his age?

'I was a mess and contemplating

withdrawing from the tournament

on Wednesday,' said Langer. Yet he

struck four birdies and an eagle in

the first eight holes of his second


He added: 'I was playing

close to perfection. It was probably

the best start to any tournament

I've played in my career.'

Ian Poulter led the British challenge

five shots off the lead with

rounds of 69 and 74.

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