by Jeff Skinner
Even though many big names were sent packing early the leaderboard is packed with big guns, proven veterans and new meat.
Sixty two year old Tom Watson makes birdie on the last to make the cut. All those hot shots that missed the cut should learn from Watson, The Links Master. There’s more to links golf than 300 yard drives.
Tiger Woods playing well and contending is always a good thing for golf. Hate him or love him it’s always more exciting when Tiger’s in the mix. His hole out from the pot bunker on eighteen is vintage Tiger, fist pump and all.
So how does Brandt Snedeker go from missing the cut in all three of his past Open Championship appearances to leading the field at the 141st Open? Easy answer, zero bogeys to go with ten birds and he was sinking every putt he looked at.
The name I like the most among the leaders is Thorbjorn Olesen. I didn’t say I liked the golfer, just the name. Anyone with the name Thor has to have something going for him. I wanted to name my first son Thor but that didn’t work out. He’ll need the strength of Thor as he’s teamed with Tiger in the third round.
Paul Lawrie continues his reincarnation and sits T5 on a very stacked leaderboard. The forty three year old 1999 Open Champion has turned back the clock and is a valid threat to claim another title.
When the cut jumped from -2 to -3 a bunch of big name players earned a reprieve and a chance to play the weekend. Keegan Bradley, K.K. Choi, Rickie Fowler, John Daly, Tom Watson and Lee Westwood were so close to missing the weekend it was scary.
So many prominent players missed the cut and Phil Mickelson has to be the biggest name and the most disappointing of all the trunk slammers. Phil was done in by the rough, the bunkers and a swing that he had no control over. Another major gone for Phil.
Rory McIlroy made the cut but after an opening 65 he fell down the leaderboard with a 75 and stands T51.
Lee Westwood snuck into the weekend right on the cutline. No player has more pressure on him this week than Westwood and he’s 13 strokes off the pace. The English press will be all over Lee.
The last two Open Champions at Royal Lytham & St. Annes also missed the cut: David Duval (2001) and Tom Lehman (1996). Lehman won’t mind he’ll spend some time sightseeing before next week’s Senior British Open Championship. And Duval probably won’t let this bother him either. While he’s focused on winning again he knows it’s not the reason he gets up in the morning. He’s a happy man now, a wealthy man, as he put it.
Tiger said the rough was nearly unplayable and he was right. Phil Mickelson will vouch for that. Phil had unbelievably, unplayable lies just yards off the fairway.
With all the rain Lytham has had many of the 205 bunkers were more like ponds than bunkers. Graeme McDowell suggested, actually complained, that some of them should be declared Ground Under Repair. Maybe he’s right, they are supposed to be sand filled bunkers that you can hit out of, not pools that give you no option to strike the ball.
ESPN certainly shows more than enough commercials. But with those Ian McShane videos that accompany them they’re almost tolerable.