Watson leads as Tiger fails at Open
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2009 British Open | Round Two | 18 Jul 2009
Golfers around the world are checking to see if the world is still round. A 59-year-old leads the Open Championship at the halfway mark and arguably the game’s greatest ever, Tiger Woods, is on his way back to Florida after missing the cut.
A player yet to even win an event on the PGA Tour, Steve Marino, and Tom Watson, who amongst his 39 PGA Tour victories are five Open Championships, lead Turnberry’s Open Championship by one over 1989 champion Mark Calcavecchia and by two over Ross Fisher, Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh, Kenichi Kuboya and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Day two dawned cold and breezy and with the wind from the north and therefore a different direction from that in practice rounds and on day one, many were left to struggle with the new challenges Turnberry was presenting.
Tom Watson’s remarkable comeback after an early struggle, turned the clock back to the days where leading and winning an Open Championship became a habit. Watson was all but gone when, after an early birdie, he dropped five shots in his next six holes and the heroics of day one seemed but an aberration.
Watson however has a love affair with Turnberry. His last competitive round prior to this year’s event was when shooting 64 in the final round of the 2003 Senior British Open and of course he does enjoy amazing memories of that win in 1977.
“I feel inspired playing here,” said Watson after yesterday’s brilliant start. "A lot of it has to do with just the – being in the presence here at Turnberry again, just a culmination of a lot of things that have gone on already. Again, I feel that – I feel that I’m playing well enough to win the golf tournament. It doesn’t feel a whole lot out of the ordinary from 32 years ago except that I don’t have the confidence in my putting as I had 32 years ago. But, again, a few of them might go in."
The momentum for Watson turned for the better at the 8th. “Two good shots at the 8th and the good putt at the 9th turned my round around,” said Watson afterwards. “I never gave up hope as I knew the inward nine was going to play a little bit easier going downwind. It was two nine holes the outward nine was pretty awful. The lady Turnberry took off her gloves today.”
Watson would go on to birdie the par three 11th and then holed two huge birdie putts of more than 50 feet at the 16th and 18th to finish where he started at 5 under. It was a remarkable stuff.
Watson is playing in his 32nd Open Championship while the man he shares the lead with Steve Marino is playing in his first. It might be worth remembering that Watson won the Open Championship at Carnoustie in his very first attempt 34 years ago. “I really love the golf course and the challenge and am really looking forward to the next two days,” said the 29 year old Florida resident Marino, who is in his third PGA Tour season.
In five previous career majors Marino has missed the cut on four occasions and has a best of 60th. He has been inside the top three in PGA Tour events on several occasions including when runner up to Steve Stricker at the recent Crowne Plaza event in Fort Worth.
While ten years Watson’s junior, Mark Calcavecchia is still a veteran and in another time and place people would be marvelling at his performance at his age. It pales in comparison with Watson’s efforts but it is still very good.
Tiger Woods missed only his third cut in 52 major championships and his first in an Open Championship when, after dropping seven shots in six holes through the middle of his round he was unable to recover. Things were looking promising enough when he birdied the par five 7th to be at even par for the Championship, but it was then the demise began and despite two valiant late birdies he is out of the championship having missed the cut by one.
There were several horror stories on day two. Ben Curtis and John Senden has both started their Championships well to be very much in the firing line after day one but rounds of 80 today saw them miss by one and two respectively.
Of the 18 Australasians in the field only four made the cut. Mathew Goggin is the best of them at present after he added a round of 72 to his opening 66 to be at 2 under and only three behind the lead. Like so many others Goggin struggled through the front nine to be out in three over 38 but found a birdie at the downwind par five 17th to be very much in the hunt.
The only Australian in the field to gain his start via Local Final Qualifying, Daniel Gaunt, was outstanding especially given his lack of experience at this level. After a bogey at the first today he produced a stunning run over the next 17 holes, playing them in four under to finish with 67 which would be the best round of the day. Gaunt was out early but the conditions were demanding all day.
Stuart Appleby and Robert Allenby were the other Australians to make the cut, Appleby at 3 over and Allenby just scraping in at four over despite a bogey at the last.
Spare a thought for young New Zealander Josh Geary who in his very first Open Championship opened with a round of 70 and still had a chance to make the cut when he birdied the 17th to be at 4 over. A bogey at the last cost him the chance of what would have been a memorable debut but he can be rightfully proud of his first effort at this level.