Nicklaus, Palmer cut out after 2 rounds


AUGUSTA, Ga. -- As Jack Nicklaus walked off the 18th green at Augusta National yesterday afternoon, Arnold Palmer was right behind him. A few steps, and three strokes.

But it wasn't like the old days.

"He asked me, 'Do you want to have a game tomorrow?' " Nicklaus said with a laugh.

If they do, it won't be at the 58th Masters. For the first time in 40 years, neither Nicklaus nor Palmer made the cut in a tournament they have combined to win 10 times.

It was the first time for Nicklaus since 1967 that he missed the cut, and only the third time since he failed to make the cut as a Masters rookie in 1959.

"I've had a lot of good years," said Nicklaus, 54, who followed an opening-round 78 with a 2-over 74 yesterday for a two-round score of 8-over 152. "This year hasn't been very good."

Since winning the senior division of the Mercedes Cup earlier this year, Nicklaus missed the cut at four straight regular PGA Tour events, then finished tied for fourth at another senior event, The Tradition, last weekend.

With rounds of 78 and 77, it marked the 11th straight time that Palmer, a four-time champion, has missed the cut. But Palmer said he planned to use the lifetime exemption for past winners and come back.

"Whether I should come back here as a former Masters champion is always a battle in my mind," said Palmer, 64. "But as long as I can hit it, as long as I can walk and as long as I can break 80 . . . I'll come back."

Forget something?

Amateur Jeffrey Thomas reached the green of the 465-yarpar-5 13th in 2 yesterday, and was about to line up his 20-foot putt. Only one problem: no putter.

It seems that Thomas, a 35-year-old trophy salesman from South Plainfield, N.J., and the reigning Mid-Amateur champion, had left his putter on the bench at the 13th tee. So he used his 2-iron to putt, and four-putted for bogey.

"It's just as much my fault as my caddie's," said Thomas, who missed the cut. "I got a little upset. There was a little steam coming out."

Funk survives

Former University of Maryland golf coach Fred Funk barely made the cut for the first time in two attempts here after a second-round 70 gave him a 5-over score of 149.

"I thought if I got it to 4-over, I would have had a chance," Funk said before advancing.

Also making the cut, perhaps to his surprise, was John Daly. After leaving the course Thursday without saying a word after a 4-over 76, Daly left yesterday with only a brief comment after a 1-over 73.

Asked if he would talk about his round, Daly snarled, "No. I'm out of here."

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