Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington all crashed out of the WGC-Accenture Match Play in the second round in California.
Defending champion Woods lost 3&1 to Australia's Nick O'Hern, while world number one Singh went out 3&2 to 51-year-old US veteran Jay Haas.
England's Westwood was beaten 7&6 by Davis Love and Ireland's Harrington was a 3&1 loser to Rory Sabbatini.
But England's Ian Poulter and Luke Donald both reached the last 16.
Woods, the 2003 and 2004 champion, had a chance to regain his top spot in the world rankings but he needed to finish significantly higher than Fiji's Singh.
"Nick made all the makeable putts he had and I didn't make any. That's the difference between winning and losing," said the 29-year-old Woods.
"He's very solid, very consistent, he's got an amazing short game and doesn't make many mistakes."
O'Hern insisted he had tried to stick to his own game:
"I knew I was playing well. Matchplay is a whole different ball game," said the 33-year-old Australian, who went two-up by the third and was never less than one hole ahead.
"I knew I would be playing my second shots first so that was a chance to put some pressure on Tiger."
In other matches, world number four Phil Mickelson beat Argentina's Angel Cabrera 4&3 and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell lost by one hole to Australian Robert Allenby.
Another British loser was English Ryder Cup star David Howell, who went down 2&1 to Australia's Adam Scott.
But Spain's Sergio Garcia beat American Jerry Kelly at the first extra hole.
Poulter progressed with a 6&5 win over Australian Stuart Appleby, while Donald defeated American Kenny Perry one-up.