Lee Westwood narrowly avoided the halfway cut at the Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes, with his three-over score sparing him by a single shot.
The 39-year-old world number three shot an even-par 70 in his second round to scrape into the weekend's action.
But Westwood's fellow Englishman Justin Rose and Spain's Sergio Garcia fell the other side of the divide on four over.
Defending champion Darren Clarke and four-time major winner Phil Mickelson also failed to survive the cull.
"Well, if it wasn't result enough to make the cut, I get a game with Tom Watson in the morning too!" tweeted a relieved Westwood.
His solid tee-to-green game, along with a top-10 finish at the US Open and victory in the Nordea Masters, had marked Westwood out as one of the favourites for the title before the start of play on Thursday.
But, after a disappointing three-over first round, he revealed he had been struggling with his game.
After some hurried remedial work with coach Pete Cowan, Westwood improved on his second turn around the Lancashire links, but he finds himself 13 shots behind halfway leader Brandt Snedeker.
Westwood has made the cut in 12 of his previous 17 Open campaigns.
Mickelson left the competition with a eight-over round of 78 - his fourth worst 18-hole score in 68 Open rounds - to finish 11 over par.
"I don't know what to say right now," he said.
"It certainly got away from me the last six holes. The last two months have been pretty poor to play and I'm pretty frustrated."
Mickelson's fellow American Tom Watson, who has lifted the Claret Jug on five occasions and led into the final hole of the 2009 event, will play the final two rounds.
The 62-year-old carded a birdie on the last to clinch the required three over-par pass mark.
However, six other former American Open champions, including David Duval, who won the last time the event was held at Lytham in 2001, were eliminated.
Tom Lehman, Justin Leonard, Todd Hamilton, Ben Curtis and Stewart Cink also headed home early.
Former world number one Martin Kaymer missed out along with former major winners Angel Cabrera, Yang Yong-eun of South Korea, the South African pair of Charl Schwartzel and Trevor Immelman, and American Lucas Glover.