World No. 1 Lee Westwood missed the cut in the European Tour’s Commercialbank Qatar Masters on Friday, while a a player ranked 477 places below him leads after two rounds.
Austria’s Markus Brier, who had to return to Q-School last November, added a 66 to his 71 to reach halfway on 7 under par in much less windy conditions than for the opening round. The 42-year-old is one ahead of South African Darren Fichardt, winner of the title in 2003, but himself only 399th in the rankings after losing his tour card four seasons ago.
2011 COMMERCIALBANK QATAR MASTERS
The Qatar Masters marks the first time since 1993 that the world's top two golfers have gone head-to-head in a European Tour event.
Westwood just failed with a 30-foot eagle attempt on the final hole and, with a 75, missed the cut by one on 4 over, while last week's winner in Bahrain Paul Casey had the same score and bowed out by two.
“I didn’t play very well,” he said. “It’s early season rust, I think. That’s it. I’m going to go on the range the next couple of days and try to get into some kind of rhythm.”
Westwood's exit from the event in which he finished third last year followed a 64th-place finish in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago, and it means he could be replaced as No. 1 by Martin Kaymer this weekend. For that to happen, though, the German needs a top-2 finish, and even after improving seven strokes on his opening 77, he made it into the closing 36 holes with nothing to spare and is still 10 adrift of Brier.
Without a single top-20 finish on the circuit all last year, Brier came through Q-School by the skin of his teeth, but still needed a sponsor's invitation for a place in this week's field.
"I'm very grateful and I hope I can make the most of it," he said. "Last year I didn't play well at all, but the game is still there."
His round was bogey-free, while Fichardt mixed eight birdies with four dropped shots for a 68.
Defending champion Robert Karlsson (69) shares third place with Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn, who shot a best-of-the-day 65, and England's Richard Finch, whose 69 included an eagle 2 at the driveable 307-yard 16th.
First-round leader Retief Goosen was still setting the pace with two to play, but while Brier was closing with a 35-foot birdie putt, he duffed a chip on the short 17th and double bogeyed. That dropped the 2007 winner -- his last European Tour success -- into a tie for sixth with fellow South African Thomas Aiken and Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, champion in 1999 and round in a fine 66.
At least Westwood and Casey didn’t react to missing the cut like their former Ryder Cup teammate Henrik Stenson. The Swede turned in 31, but came home in 42 and en route to a quadruple-bogey 9 on his final hole, he flung a wedge over his shoulder and into the lake behind.
World No. 7 Steve Stricker, making his first trip to the Middle East, survived the cut on the limit of 3 over like Kaymer thanks to birdies at the 15th and 16th. Fellow American John Daly knocked nine strokes off his opening 77 with a 68 to climb to 1 over.