Woods, Top-Ranked McIlroy Miss Cut at Abu Dhabi Golf Tournament

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy both missed the cut at the European Tour’s HSBC Championship, with Woods being assessed a two-shot penalty yesterday that cost him his place in the final two rounds.

England’s Justin Rose holds the lead going into today’s third round at 8-under, one shot better than James Donaldson of Wales, Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark.

McIlroy and Woods, the top two in the Official World Golf Ranking, both shot 75 yesterday at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. The penalty left Woods at 3-over par for 36 holes, one shot over the score needed to play on the weekend, while playing partner McIlroy finished at 6-over.

Second-ranked Woods was penalized for an illegal drop after hitting his tee shot on the par-4 fifth hole into some plants on the right of the fairway.

He said he asked Martin Kaymer, the third member of his group, to examine his lie and both players agreed the ball was embedded. Woods then took a drop and played on.

European Tour chief referee Andy McFee told Woods on the 11th hole the incident was being investigated and the penalty was eventually imposed after the round.

“It’s tough,” Woods said on the European Tour’s website. “I didn’t get off to a good start, and I fought hard. I got it to where I thought I could play the weekend and thought that I might have a chance.”

According to McFee, the rule infringement was brought to light when spectators walking with Woods’s group were asked by a referee, who hadn’t seen the incident, why the American took a drop.

“No referee was involved but we suspected it might have been embedded ball,” McFee said. “So we went and had a look at the area and thought ‘well, embedded ball rule just does not apply.’”

McIlroy shot 3-over in both of his two rounds in his first start since signing an endorsement agreement with Nike Inc. The Northern Irishman, runner-up to Robert Rock at last year’s tournament, finished with five bogeys and two birdies on the day.

“I’m very disappointed,” he told reporters. “You never want to get off to a poor start, but I’ve got to realize it’s only the start of the season.”

Germany’s Kaymer shot 69 yesterday to move into a tie for seventh place at 4-under.