Garcia stays ahead as Carnoustie tames Tiger
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2007 British Open | Round Two | 21 Jul 2007
On a cool and breezy morning, Sergio Garcia completed a round of 71 on day two of the Open Championship at Carnoustie and as he walked from the 18th green he had maintained his lead after 36 holes. As he finished his round at around 2.20 pm, the only man on the course at that point, who appeared capable of threatening his control of the tournament was Korean K.J. Choi who had started his round three hours after Garcia but who was putting together a superb display.
Choi had led the tournament for much of the first day until two late bogeys and a great finish by Garcia saw him start the day four behind the Spaniard. Today, however, Choi played the front nine comfortably in even par before turning on an outstanding back nine in demanding conditions as the skies turned blue and the breeze increased further.
When Choi birdied the par five 14th after laying up and then holed a lengthy birdie putt at the 15th he was within one of Garcia. He made his only mistake of the back nine when he was left with his drive at the last and could only advance his ball some 100 yards or so from an awkward stance. He then pitched to 40 feet and two putted for bogey to finish with his second 69 but on this day it would be the equal best round of day two and he had advanced his cause by moving within two of the lead.
Miguel Angle Jimenez had completed his round an hour before Garcia and, apart from two dropped shots in the middle of his round, the Spaniard had been faultless. His brilliant tee shot to less than two feet at the lengthy par three 16th set up one final birdie and his round of 70 has him sharing third at 3 under with Canadian Mike Weir who has been quietly working his way back into form in recent weeks.
Jim Furyk, who was also out early in the day, looked as if he may be the one to challenge Garcia but after an outward nine of 33 he dropped a shot at the 10th after being lucky not to finish in the burn, was unable to birdie the 14th and then dropped a shot at the last. Still, Furyk looked good in his quest to improve on his previous best finish in this event (4th) and may yet loom as a serious challenger for the title.
Furyk shares fifth place with Boo Weekley who, in his debut at the Open, is making a very good fist of British links golf. Weekley dropped two shots late in his round but at two under he is well placed to continue what has been a very good season for him. A winner of the Verizon Heritage and the quality Harbour Town Links and runner up at the Honda Classic perhaps suggest that Weekley deserves to be in this position more than he does at first glance, but in his first ever Open Championship this is a very impressive start.
Tiger Woods must have got up out of the wrong side of the bed this morning as he was clearly out of sorts with his game for much of the day. After a double bogey at his very first hole, he seemed unable to correct what were major swing faults, the head dropping characteristic that often plagues him returning and causing some rather un-Tiger like shots especially through the front nine. He recovered over the back nine but a dropped shot after a poor second to the last will be a bitter pill to swallow after fighting his way back into the tournament after his shaky start. At one over however he is definitely not yet out of it.
Of the Australians, Rod Pampling is the best placed but after a great start when he birdied the second and third holes to move to three under and within three at that point, he will be thinking perhaps about what might have been. He recovered from a double bogey at the 5th but bogeys at the last two holes spoiled what could have been a very good day. Still, for Pampling this 36 hole performance puts to bed the horror memories of 1999 and he is not yet out of contending for the title on Sunday.
Adam Scott was almost the forgotten man out on the course today. As the number five player in the world he received virtually no exposure. Perhaps it is because of his less than impressive record in this event but the 27-year-old was quietly going about his business. He dropped only one shot and had a putt from 12 feet at the last which would have had him back at even par for the tournament. He missed that but at just one over par he is the second best placed Australian and within striking distance of contention.
The other Australasians making the weekend are Richard Green at three over and Michael Campbell, Won Joon Lee and John Senden at four over. It has been a very impressive major championship debut for Lee, just ten months into his professional career, while for Campbell after such a promising start in his opening round, he fell part in round two and now finds himself ten shots behind the leader. Playing in the last group of the day, Lee controlled the destiny of those at five over and his birdie, bogey, finish effectively ruled out a further ten players.
Speaking of the Australians, spare a thought for the Kempsey golfer Matthew Zions who when he birded the 14th hole was at one under and was the equal best Australian with Rod Pampling. Unfortunately for Zions, who is playing in his very first major championship, he dropped six shots in the closing four holes to miss the cut by one.
Spare a thought also for another golfer, although not an Australian, whose late demise will be agonising for him. Pelle Edberg was out late on day two in fact it was nearing 8.30 when he finished his round. The Swede, who has been in impressive form of late, moved to 4 under for the day and 3 under for the tournament when he two putted the par five 14th after a great second, the birdie seeing him as an unlikely contender for the second round lead. As he walked from the 18th green, however, he had dropped six shots in his last four holes and was at three over and all his hard work had flown out the door.
Garcia now has the tournament to win or lose. His improved putting has opened up the opportunity to for that long awaited first major but if he thinks eight years since his first major as a professional at this event in 1999 has been a long wait, the next 48 hours might feel even longer. A win by Garcia in this championship will be good for the game, his charismatic and unpredictable flair an important ingredient in the continued growth of the game worldwide. He has a huge task ahead of him however as an increasingly demanding Carnoustie and the world’s leading players look to have their say in the final outcome of this event.