Tiger edges ahead on one of golf's great days
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2005 British Open | Round Two | 16 Jul 2005
It was one of the great days in tournament golf. Jack Nicklaus, the game’s greatest ever player saying goodbye to Scottish and World golf fans who have warmed to him in such an embracing way since he first ventured to Scotland for the 1962 Open Championship – then just half an hour or so later Tiger Woods, on track to replace Nicklaus as the greatest ever, completes his round with a four shot lead.
It was a scriptwriter’s dream and although, perhaps, the perfect scenario would have been for Jack to make the cut and for the inevitable to be extended two more days, it is hard to imagine how the occasion could have been bettered. As he walked across the Swilkin Burn for one last time he paused to both reflect and for the world to capture forever one of the great sporting moments. He then encouraged his son, his playing partners Luke Donald, Tom Watson and their caddies, to join him in what will, for them, no doubt be one of their great and enduring memories in the game – the day they shared such a special occasion at such close quarters.
For Watson too, it was clearly a moment charged with emotion. He was in tears himself, as the two on course adversaries over such a long period, embraced. As Watson walked away I would be prepared to bet there were thoughts of his long time caddy Bruce Edwards going through his mind perhaps wishing Bruce could have been there, even just for the moment, to share such a great moment – perhaps he was.
With that moment behind them the crowd settled back to witness the arrival of Tiger Woods to the arena that is the closing hole at St Andrews. Woods had started the day two ahead and almost clinically he put together a mistake free round of 67 with five birdies and no bogeys.
There were many shots that stood out in round two but perhaps none more so than the drive he hit at the 380 yard 10th when he found the green and two putted from 65 feet to move to ten under. The power of that statement echoed around the tournament. At the 17th he hit another shot that he will be salivating over tonight and although he was unable to convert it into a birdie, it was again an indication of just where he is at with his game right now. From the very first cut of rough along the left hand side of the “Road Hole”, and with a right to left helping breeze, he feathered a four iron to eight feet. It would have been easy to take the soft option and play to the front the green and left in run up without the risk of the dangers beyond, but not Tiger.
At the last, almost as if to let us all know that the chasing bunch were not completely without hope, he drop kicked his three wood far left and in the end had to struggle for par. It perhaps reminded us that he is after all still human, but although he obviously is, it is of the super human variety to which he belongs.
At about the time he was finishing, Woods would have seen that he had built a three shot lead over an unlikely challenger in Tino Schuster who, when he eagled the 9th, had moved to eight under and was perhaps the man most likely to challenge the thirty six hole lead. As the magnitude of where he was and what he was doing started to register, the wheels started to well and truly fall off the Schuster machine. He would drop six shots over the closing holes to finish at two under and safely inside the cut line. He did though have more than his fifteen minutes of fame.
Also playing behind Tiger was another unlikely challenger in Colin Montgomerie. Obviously Montgomerie is a hundred times more credentialed than Schuster to challenge at this level but one look at Monty’s Open Championship tells us all that this was an aberration. Just one top ten in fifteen starts would indicate that he had no right to be where he was on the leaderboard but here he was, about to become Woods nearest challenger at the completion of 36 holes. His strong finishing burst, less than an hour behind Woods, consisted of three birdies over the final six holes. He will now play in the last group on day three with the support of a Scottish crowd, now a lot more sympathetic to the more human side of Montgomerie that has been exposed in recent times. That pairing will tee off at 3:05 pm local time (12:05am AEST).
In the group immediately ahead will be Trevor Immelman and Vijay Singh who are five back of the lead as are another five players including Robert Allenby, Peter Lonard, Brad Faxon, Jose Maria Olazabal and Scott Verplank.
Still very much in the mix – certainly for a top three – are a host of golfers between five under and the cut score of 1 over with that being the cut score to both a number and a player. One over par finished in exactly 70th position on day two. 80 players made the cut and with all but two of them within seven shots of each other, there will be much interest in what will be an intriguing “moving” day tomorrow.
The tournament appears on the surface to be Tiger’s. He controls the tournament and given his capacity to lead from the front and the manner in which he is now playing, it may just be that we could see a repeat dose of 2000 when he won by eight shots. I say ’could’ as we need to remember this is golf, but he represents a commanding presence on the leaderboard and on the golf course. Mind you a month ago Michael Campbell thought he too was playing for second at Pinehurst behind what appeared to be an almost immovable force.
From an Australian perspective there is much to anticipate with thirteen players, including 2003 US Amateur champion, Nick Flanagan, making the cut at 1. Lonard and Allenby are in the group at six under with Lonard now recording one eagle, thirteen birdies, three bogeys and three doubles in his thirty six holes. He has been the most prolific in terms of under par scores and if he can find a way to eliminate the serious blunders, he can challenge at least for a top three. His last hole birdie, after driving the green, was just the way he would have wanted to finish his second round.
Allenby, perhaps lifted by playing in the presence of Woods, is having his best British Open at this stage. He hardly made a mistake today and eliminated those costly double bogeys that ruined his card yesterday. Stuart Appleby and Richard Green are also poised to challenge for the top Australian spot at worst.
Greg Norman was simply brilliant, given his lack of recent play, in making the cut. Surely when he steps up at the Senior British Open next week at Aberdeen, he has a license to print money.
Unfortuntely for Mark Hensby, the wheels well and truly fell off today. After starting in outright second place, he eventually closed the day in equal 55th after a round of 77. His rollercoaster round included a bogey, double bogey, triple bogey and two birdies.
Just as it should be here however, so many players still have a chance to win this event if Woods should falter at all. The problem they all face though is that the World number one is back to close to his very best and we all know what that means.
Australasian 2nd Round Results
T3 -6 Peter Lonard AUS (68-70)
T3 -6 Robert Allenby AUS (70-68)
T15 -4 Richard Green AUS (72-68)
T15 -4 Stuart Appleby AUS (72-68)
T25 -3 Adam Scott AUS (70-71)
T25 -3 Michael Campbell NZL (69-72)
T39 -2 Nick O’Hern AUS (73-69)
T47 -1 Greg Norman AUS (72-71)
T55 Ev Mark Hensby AUS (67-77)
T55 Ev Nicholas Flanagan AUS (73-71)
T70 1 David Smail NZL (73-72)
T70 1 Geoff Ogilvy AUS (71-74)
T70 1 Rod Pampling AUS (74-71)
- Missed Cut ****
T81 2 Euan Walters AUS (72-74)
T81 2 Peter Fowler AUS (74-72)
T114 5 David Diaz AUS (74-75)
T114 5 Martin Doyle AUS (73-76)
T114 5 Scott Hend AUS (73-76)
T135 8 Craig Parry AUS (78-74)
T139 9 Marcus Fraser AUS (78-75)
T147 11 Chris Campbell AUS (81-74)
T151 14 John Wade AUS (76-82)
T151 14 Richard Moir AUS (83-75)