By John Strege
Only the insomniacs might have witnessed it, but Tiger Woods was a key component of second-round play at the British Open on Friday.
Woods, who teed off at 4:44 a.m. EDT (and 1:44 a.m. PDT), ground out a score of even-par that by the end of the day had him tied for second and one stroke behind leader Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Leave it the venerable Peter Alliss to boil down Woods' performance. "I thought Tiger showed his class the last two days," Alliss said during his daily stint on the ESPN telecast. "Struggled. Putted well when necessary. He hasn't bitched and moaned too much as many of them have."
As for why Woods figures to play a leading role on the weekend, beyond the obvious -- talent and his standing in the world -- Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee offered this on Twitter: "It's a 13 club major and by far the best 13 club player who ever lived is tied for 4th at the moment."
Muirfield Golf Club is playing firm and fast, making the driver a virtual non-entity, notwithstanding Zach Johnson's use of one. The driver remains Woods' nemesis, but he has not yet used it this week.
"I do believe Tiger will be tough to beat this weekend," David Duval Tweeted. "In full control of his game except driver and he doesn't need that club here."
Muirfield 2, field 0
The course won again on Friday, which pleased at least one man in attendance, Prince Andrew, an avid golfer and former captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.
"I will tell you, I was able to have a word or two with Prince Andrew," ESPN's Billy Kratzert said. "He said this is proper golf -- brown, fast and windy."
To his credit, Duval Tweeted a similar sentiment, despite shooting 76 and 79 to miss the cut. "Never played a more perfectly prepared venue. R&A should be commended. Brutally tough but exceedingly fair," he wrote.
On Rory McIlroy: "You get the sense that everyone is talking about you and you become slightly embarrassed when things aren't going well and you keep dropping shots and that becomes more embarrassing. That's why this sport is one of the cruelest businesses, if not the cruelest of all the professions."
On Jimenez' classic pre-warmup stretching routine, with a cigar in his mouth: "Now that's the hokey pokey, you move it all around. You really do these exercises with a cigar, a good quality one, and a man standing by with a large scotch. Otherwise it doesn't count."
ESPN revisited Ian Poulter's post-round Tweet on Thursday, when he called the eighth hole "a joke" and suggested 18 needed "a windmill and a clown face."
"Don't Tweet after you've bogeyed three of the last four," ESPN's Paul Azinger said. Actually it was four bogeys in the last five holes in round one, but point well taken.
Do stats lie?
When ESPN's Dottie Pepper cited Phil Mickelson's PGA Tour sand save ranking, 35th, Azinger questioned its validity. "I'll tell you, that stat is bogus. This is the best bunker player that I've ever seen. He's magic out of the bunkers. Statistically it is what it is. But if you had a competition, who can get it the closest, I'd put my money on Mickelson."
The stats show that only twice since he turned pro in 1992 has he finished in the top 10 in sand saves (third in 2008 and eighth in 1996). Only six times in his career has he finished better than the 35th he currently ranks. He also has finished outside the top 100 on four occasions.
Judy Rankin on a roll
Rankin on the par-4 15th hole: "The stories at the practice tee, from the early players, one that I heard was that Henrik Stenson hit a 5-iron here from 305 yards off the tee. I can certainly see that now. I feel that I could."
Golf Digest's Dan Jenkins: "Let me defend Muirfield. Players moaning like they've been in a war? Par saves feeling like birdies? That's what a major's supposed to be."
(Getty Images photo)