Birdies And Bogeys
July 14, 2011
Birdie: Tom Watson
He was upstaged by another Tom -- Tom Lewis -- on Thursday, but on Friday, Watson was able to steal back the spotlight with one swing of a 4-iron. Two years after his excruciatingly-close call at Turnberry's, Watson recorded his 15th career ace when he one-hopped his tee shot into the cup on the 163-yard sixth, helping to earn yet another weekend tee time at the Open.
Bogey: Tom Lewis
Young Tom wasn't able to maintain the momentum from Thursday, scuffling his way to a four-over par 74 that included a failed up-and-down attempt from a cart path on 18. But perhaps that's not such a bad thing. With all the breathless coverage of the English amateur's opening 65, another day atop the leader board might have ended up suffocating him.
Birdie: Old guys
The 61-year-old Watson's ace was not the only high point for the reading-glasses set. Darren Clarke, 42, leads the tournament, Miguel Angel Jimenez, 47, is a stroke back, and 52-year-old Tom Lehman and 47-year-old Davis Love III are each two strokes off. It either shows this is a golf course that rewards experience, or that only the mellowest of veterans know not to get frazzled by Royal St. George's maddening bounces.
Bogey: England's Best
With England boasting the two top players in the world ranking, you'd think it would have a homegrown player to rally behind at Royal St. George's. Instead, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood both missed the cut, as did 16th-ranked Ian Poulter. Put another way, as excited as the fans here might be to see amateur Tom Lewis make it into the weekend, they didn't necessarily expect him to outplay the country's best professionals in the process.
Birdie: Forgotten Americans
Before we despair over the state of the U.S. golfer, take a better look at the Open leader board, where the likes of Lucas Glover, Chad Campbell, Dustin Johnson, and Davis Love III were all in the mix. Even Phil Mickelson, who has a mostly forgettable overseas record, was within striking distance at one under. Must have been that brief taste of Southern California-like weather on Friday. Either that, or perhaps American golf isn't in as big a hole as originally feared.
Bogey: Graeme McDowell
Last year's U.S. Open champion has lost the swagger that made him the breakout star of 2010. Consider his week here, when he opened with a 68 and then fell apart on Friday with 77. The blow-up round continues a worrying trend of at least one ugly score per tournament. In the span of a year, McDowell's knack for coming up big has taken on an entirely new meaning.
Birdie: Peter Uihlein
The reigning U.S. Amateur champ made his first cut in a major championship after a second-consecutive 71 and is only six strokes off the lead heading into the weekend. Most impressive, however, is that he hardly saw that as cause for celebration. "I hope to do this a long time," he said. "I don't want to be content making cuts."
Birdie: Weekend drama
Rather than discuss who HAS a chance to win this Open, it might be easier to talk about who doesn't. Rare is a major that features a field so bunched together, with all 71 players who make the cut within seven strokes of one another. "It's the most wide open Open I've seen in a long time," said Rory McIlroy, who is only four shots back. What it means is the player who hoists the claret jug might be someone who barely slides into the weekend, especially when you consider what's coming....
Bogey: Weekend weather
Don't let the tank tops and sunglasses fool you. The Open's brief dalliance with summer will come to an abrupt end on Saturday. The forecast calls for rain, wind, and cold -- all the things that give this tournament its identity. Gentlemen, start your Gore-Tex.
Birdie: Rory McIlroy
He said before the tournament he'd take even par heading into the weekend, and he got it, with his 69 putting him four shots off the lead. The bad news for Rory is he has made only a few putts of significance through the first 36 holes. The good news? He hasn't made any putts, and he's still in position to contend for another major.