Gloomy Day

British Open Second Round

Woods Misses The Cut As Watson, Marino Head Into Weekend With Lead

July 18, 2009|By Chuck Culpepper | Chuck Culpepper,Tribune Newspapers

On a shocking and stirring day at the 138th British Open, two of the least-frequently asked questions in the English language loomed over Turnberry and competed for primacy.

Would Tiger Woods really miss the cut?

And: Could a 59-year-old actually win this thing?

After the overwhelming favorite thrashed through a six-hole thud so profound he looked like some other and far more deeply flawed human, the first question found an even rarer answer.

Yes.

And as Tom Watson righted a foundering round with four birdies in the last 10 holes, a 60-foot monster putt on No. 16 and a 60-footer from the fringe on No. 18 that loosed a proper roar, the second question found a curious answer.

Who knows?

Woods' serial horrors from Nos. 8 through 13 - bogey, bogey, double bogey, bogey, par, double bogey - sent him spiraling to 7-over-par so that even two late birdies ensured he would miss a cut for only the second time in a major tournament, for the first time anywhere since the 2006 U.S. Open and for only the sixth time in his career.

And so the British Open championship became the third major tournament this year to elude Woods in his comeback from knee surgery, even though he won the run-up tournaments for all three.

Meanwhile, Watson's learned resolve just seven weeks from his 60th birthday - and 32 years after his 1977 Open win at Turnberry - forged a round as a round-trip delight, traveling downward from 6-under to 1-under with five bogeys in six holes from Nos. 2 through 7, and all the way back to 5-under and a tie with the inconceivable co-leader, fellow American Steve Marino.

"As if the spirits are on my side," five-time champion Watson said on the BBC just afterward.

After a morning in which the wind said hello and the crowded leader board started retreating, nothing foretold Woods' uncommon miseries when he finished playing No. 7, and nothing foretold Watson's rarefied joy when he finished playing the same hole.

The three-time champion looked foreboding. The five-time champion looked decrepit.

Woods had just played six immaculate, expert pars followed by one systematic birdie that coursed straight through the fairway and traded on a short and gorgeous chip shot. Watson had just walked off from a fifth bogey, reached No. 8 and received a pat on the back from playing partner Sergio Garcia, who tried to encourage him by saying, "Come on, old man!"

"I said, 'Well, I feel like an old man,' " Watson said.

After being even par and "right where I needed to be," Woods began hitting drives waywardly right. He found bunkers on Nos. 8 and 12. He spent No. 9 entirely in unkind foliage on the right. He caused an impromptu search party that diligently sought his lost ball on No. 10 - and failed, despite finding two other people's balls in Mother Nature's gargantuan rough.

Then, in stunning epitome, he chipped from behind the green on No. 13 and saw that sickly thing stop briefly on the green before turning and heading back downward to Woods' right. When finally his approach to No. 18 from a decent lie in the right rough gamely reached the green but then rolled off, Woods' youthful face formed a frown.

"It was just problem after problem," he said.

For the second straight year, someone over 50 leads after two rounds, after Greg Norman at age 53 last year. "I think it's very clear what it says for the game of golf," Watson said. "It says that the game of golf is long-lived."

With Watson is Marino, a man 30 years younger who is playing his first links tournament, a man who squeezed into the field only when Shingo Katayama withdrew..

"I'm just having a blast," Marino said. Of his plans, Marino said: "Well, go home, get something to eat. I'm really hungry right now."

Leader board

The leaders ...

Steve Marino 67-68 - 135

Tom Watson 65-70 - 135

... selected followers

Mark Calcavecchia

67-69 - 136

Ross Fisher

69-68 - 137

Retief Goosen

67-70 - 137

Miguel Angel Jimenez

64-73 - 137

Kenichi Kuboya

65-72 - 137

Vijay Singh

67-70 - 137

Lee Westwood

68-70 - 138

Stewart Cink

66-72 - 138

Martin Kaymer

69-70 - 139

Angel Cabrera

69-70 - 139

Jim Furyk

67-72 - 139

Sergio Garcia

70-69 - 139

Camilo Villegas

66-73 - 139

Boo Weekley

67-72 - 139

John Daly

68-72 - 140

BRITISH OPEN

Through Sunday

Turnberry, Scotland

Today's TV: 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. TNT; 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., chs. 2, 7

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