Tiger Woods: Catch Me If You Can
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2006 British Open | Round Two | 22 Jul 2006
Tiger Woods’ second shot to the 14th hole in round two of the Open Championship may well be recognised in years to come as one of the more memorable in Open Championship history. It might just be that it is that already.
Already in the tournament lead as he stood on the 14th tee, the last thing the rest of the field needed was an even greater gap between them and the world number one but he would create just that when his four iron from more than 200 yards pitched on the front of the green jumped forward and then fed a little to the left for an eagle two. It jammed against the flagstick before falling below the surface and Woods’ lead had been extended to three although, within a few minutes, Chris DiMarco had reduced it to two with a birdie at his last hole. Tiger then added another birdie at the 16th to move three ahead and that was where he would be as he would from the last green.
The day had again dawned fine and calm with what little breeze there was in the early part of the day hardly registering on those lucky enough to have the early tee time on day two. Miguel Angel Jimenez was quick to take advantage of the opportunity he had created with his opening round of 67 and within five holes he had the lead by four. Birdies at the first and fourth followed by an eagle at the 5th moved Jimenez to 9 under par. It might have felt surreal to him and probably was. Within the next six holes he had dropped three of those four shots he had picked up and was back to six under par. The Spaniard would add one last birdie at the 18th to finish at seven under and eventually five behind.
The first round leader, Graeme McDowell, bogeyed his very first hole, the beginning of a long day which would eventually see him finish with 73 and, at five under, he is still well enough placed, but it was a day of what might have been. Just one birdie after his six in round one highlighted the added scrutiny and pressure of leading an event such as this, even early in the tournament.
As Woods and DiMarco finished their rounds, the player who would make the biggest run at Tiger’s lead had not long started his. Ernie Els has not played well in recent months, at least by his very high standards, but there were signs last week at Loch Lomond from Els that things were on the improve. They would improve even further today also as he produced an almost mistake free round of 65 to move within one.
The battle between Woods and Els in round three will be intriguing but they are not completely alone in terms of tournament chances. DiMarco has been very impressive, especially given his lack of recent form, but it might just be that he is found wanting over the closing stages of the tournament. He has played the majors well in recent years including playoff losses at the PGA and the Masters but he has not had much to show for his visits to Britain. His triple bogey at the 7th hole in round one will no doubt still be playing on his mind as will the fact that it has been some time since he ahs been in contention.
Retief Goosen looks to be one who could challenge the two leaders over the closing stages of the tournament. He has not played all that well in recent months but well enough for this performance to not be the surprise that DiMarco’s has been. Goosen’s record at the Open in recent years has been very impressive and he showed at Shinnecock Hills that firm fiery golf courses are of no concern to him. I can see him challenging the leading two players throughout the weekend.
The leading Australian is Adam Scott who has putted well so far this week and now, at seven under and five behind, finds himself in his best position ever in an Open Championship and indeed in a major. Scott’s record at the Open is ordinary at best but he has a great chance to put that to rest over the next few days.
Brett Rumford, Robert Allenby and Marcus Fraser are at five under and seven back of Woods, all three finishing their rounds off well. The race for leading Australian is an interesting one as there are eight players within three shots of each other.
Geoff Ogilvy birdied three of his last four holes and improved on his opening round of 71 perhaps further highlighting that the break he took from tournament golf has taken a little time to overcome. Peter Lonard again played the back nine beautifully after a poor start to the day. Lonard was home in six under 31 and at four under he has a chance to make further porgress.
Also at four under are Mark Hensby and Rod Pampling while at three under and producing quite a story is Andrew Buckle who was only advised at midday on Tuesday when preparing for the Nationwide Tour event in Missouri that he had a start at the Open. To have raced across the Atlantic with such a limited preparation and to have made the cut is some achievement.
Another story of note amongst the Australians was that of last week’s John Deere Classic winner, John Senden, who birdied his last three holes to just make the one under cut mark.
Narrowly missing were Mathew Goggin, despite a brilliant late attempt to do so, and Jarrod Lyle who will be ruing a last hole bogey which cost him a chance of a game at the weekend. Goggin played the back nine in five under including an eagle at the last but it was all too late.
Given Wood’s front running record, it might just be that he hit the winning shot of this tournament around 1.00am on day two when his four iron, from over 200 yards, found its way into the hole at the 14th but there will be many of his competitors not yet resigned to that fact.