Curtis leads the exit parade of champions

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The Independent Online

As sensationally as he burst into The Open picture last year, so meekly he exited it this year.

As sensationally as he burst into The Open picture last year, so meekly he exited it this year.

Ben Curtis will only be able to use that "Open champion" title for another two days after missing the cut and heading back to America yesterday.

"That's just the way it goes," said Curtis, who has had just one top 10 finish on the US Tour since becoming golf's most unlikely major champion at Sandwich. "There's always next year, next time around."

Curtis had resumed on four over and was in need of at least a level round to make the weekend. But a bogey, after an up-and-down round, at the par-three 17th did for the 27-year-old from Ohio who finished with a 74 at seven over.

"Unfortunately, it just didn't seem like I got any good breaks," he said. "I love links golf, but I was just a little bit off with the short game, just a hair, enough where it makes the difference between making the cut or missing by a couple of shots.

"I drove the ball extremely well compared to yesterday. I just couldn't get the ball in the hole," Curtis added. "I really had a good chance to go out and shoot a good number. But it just didn't seem like I got any good breaks this week. That's just the way it goes."

"You don't think about missing the cut. Obviously coming down the last three or four holes, I was trying to make some birdies and play for the weekend," he said.

He was in good company as his playing partner Nick Faldo, the three-times Open champion, was also heading out of the Royal Troon gates for the last time this year. The only consolation was that Faldo will be able to celebrate his 47th birthday at home tomorrow after rounds of 76 and 77 that left him at an embarrassing 11 over.

Asked if the disappointment was eased by the passing years, Faldo said: "Are you kidding? It's eating me up." That was unsurprising as the third major of the year had yielded the third missed cut for Faldo. "I need to change a few things and I didn't have enough time," he said. "What I had was not good enough for The Open.

"I'm driving badly and putting badly," said Faldo, who experimented with a belly putter in practice. "And then there were a couple of lousy wedge shots at six and seven. I could have kicked it on to the green.

"There will be a few changes for the next time I play [at the Irish Open next week]. Hopefully I'll have Guinness in me. That might be the secret."

Another former Open champion, Greg Norman, also made a premature departure, blaming his "very, very pathetic putting" for the seven-over total that led to his first missed cut at The Open since 1980. "My putting was just very, very pathetic," said the 1986 and 1993 champion. "I just couldn't get anything going. End of story."

But at least there was some good news for the nostalgia-junkies when Jack Nicklaus, who is not playing here this week, revealed that he would be teeing up in The Open at St Andrews next year.