Donald loses proud record as his Masters build-up takes knock in Malaysia
11:49 GMT, 23 March 2013
19:49 GMT, 23 March 2013
Poor form: Luke Donald missed the cut in Malaysia
They were playing in tournaments thousands of miles apart, but Luke Donald and Phil Mickelson headed home united by one common thought: with the Masters less than three weeks away, they have plenty of work to do.
Donald crashed out of the Malaysian Open at the halfway stage on Saturday to spoil one of the things he was most proud about in his career.
It was the first time he had ever missed a halfway cut in a European Tour event.
'I guess all good runs come to an end eventually, but I'm hugely disappointed,' he said.
Mickelson looked positively shattered after running up a horrific 79 in the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
'I just played terribly,' he said. Only three times in his last 12 Masters appearances has the three-time champion finished outside the top five, but the gifted lefty sounded like a man who did not expect to keep that remarkable run going.
He also had a dig at the PGA Tour for changing the schedule this year. Instead of the Houston Open – a tournament Mickelson loves – being the event before the Masters, it will be the Texas Open.
'Personally, I like playing on a course the week before that's similar, but the Texas Open layout is tight and it's windy, and that's not conducive to getting ready for Augusta,' he said.
'That makes it difficult for me. I find when I take a week off I come out and play like I did here – not mentally sharp. That's not good at the Masters, where you have to be sharp out of the gate.'
Donald's first missed cut on the European Tour came in his 119th start, stretching back a decade, and followed poor rounds of 74 and 73 to fall short by three shots as he struggled to read the slow greens at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
'I've got two weeks at home now and I'm going to have to be diligent in my Masters preparation,' he said.
Two up: Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand claimed a two shot lead in the second round
Click here for the latest standings
'It's true we've all seen players
who are seemingly out of form go and have a good week at the Masters,
but I need my scoring clubs – from 100 yards and in – to be better than
they have been.'
Meanwhile, as the third round of the
Arnold Palmer Invitational got underway at Bay Hill yesterday, Lee
Westwood did not improve his position among the back markers with a 72,
while Graeme McDowell is almost propping up the field after a 75.
One of the best early moves came from
Scot Martin Laird, a former winner of this event, who shot 68 to leap
up 35 places into the top 40.
Englishman Justin Rose began his third round tied for the lead with American Bill Haas, while Tiger Woods was four back.
Here in style: Charl Schwartzel of South Africa arrives in a helicopter on Saturday
Canada's Mike Weir, winner of the 2003 Masters, withdrew with a rib injury.
Weir, who was looking forward to
celebrating the 10th anniversary of his only major win at Augusta next
month, walked off the Bay Hill course after going four over through 11
Playing on a career money earnings
exemption after three barren injury-plagued seasons, Weir had begun to
show signs of turning his game around after making the cut for only the
fifth time in a PGA Tour event over the past three years.
Three of those have been this season, with a best finish of tied 50th at Pebble Beach.
'I'm feeling closer,' he said after his opening round on Thursday.
'It's not easy, but it's part of the game. I want to compete and that makes the hard work easier. I still love the game.'
Weir had been scheduled to play the Houston Open next week in his final competitive tune-up before the year's first major.