I would love it if we played a tournament every year where we had to use half a set. Or play with persimmon and balata on a 6,400-yard course. It would be fun for us to do a couple times a year. Low score would still win. The best player would still win. TIGER WOODS
Just when you thought Friday's wild events would make for a great day of filings, the possibilities Sunday have the scribes working overtime to put the enormity of Tom Watson into perspective. Not an easy thing to do as the entire concept of a 59-year old winning is still unfathomable to most of us, even after Greg Norman's run last year.
Want to know how big the story is? There were almost no Tiger-missed-the-cut redux specials.
Anyway, gentleman, boot your laptops...
Ian Chadband in the Telegraph:
Last time, it was the Duel in the Sun; this time, it could be the Duel with the English Sons.
Larry Dorman in the New York Times:
For just a moment on Saturday, this whole dream vision of Tom Watson, 59 years old and leading the 138th British Open, seemed to have caught up to him — just as his young pursuers had.
But as he did the day before, and as he had done so often in days gone by, Watson resolutely refused to go away.
AP's Doug Ferguson writes:
Tom Watson has a plan to win the British Open. It no longer reads like a fairy tale.
James Corrigan in the Independent:
This is getting serious. Tom Watson is on the brink of golf's most stunning victory.
If you have time, check out Watson's post-3rd round interview. Lots of great exchanges thanks to some surprising questions. This was fun:
Q. How does the wind affect the modern ball versus what you were playing back in '77?
TOM WATSON: Well, the wind doesn't affect it nearly as much. The modern ball goes straighter; it doesn't curve as much. It's a harder ball to play downwind, I think. The old ball was a better ball to play downwind. But into the wind and crosswind, the modern ball is much better. It doesn't curve as much and it bores through the wind better.
Tom English in The Scotsman:
OLD Tom Morris's whiskers will be fairly twitching up there in the golfing gods. He's watching. Don't doubt it. Watching and cheering. You don't believe it? Fair enough.
It's a fanciful tale to be sure. Mystic nonsense. Okay. So come up with another reason for what's been going on at Turnberry this week. Explain the mysteries of Tom Watson taking a one-shot lead into the final round of the Open championship at the age of 59. Tell us about the huge putts he holed, the fortunate bounces, the feeling in the air around him.
We are talking history on an unimaginable scale. Not just Old Tom Morris but Harry Vardon, too. Vardon is the only man who has ever won six Open championships.
Mark Reason in the Telegraph:
They gave Tom Watson a standing ovation as he walked onto the 18th green, but it was strangely different to the one that Greg Norman received at Birkdale last year.
Norman’s Saturday evening was lit by sentimental sunlight, as if the heavens knew that this was the Australian’s moment. Watson walked home beneath a muted sky and the crowd sensed that ol’ Tom’s moment of magic may still be to come.
Gene Wojciechowski for ESPN.com:
Thanks for saving this Open Championship from post-Tiger Woods withdrawal. Thanks for single-handedly rescuing a tournament that had its steering wheel turned toward ZZZZZurnberry and a leaderboard of Who's-That?, What's-His-Face and So-and-So.
We owe you, Tom Watson.
Doug Ferguson on Jack Nicklaus playing some tennis before retiring to his couch to watch Watson, shed a few tears, send his first text message and issue this proclamation:
"Whether or not Tom players well tomorrow, whether or not he wins, it doesn't make a difference," Nicklaus said. "Of course, we would all love to see Tom win, but what he has accomplished already is a phenomenal achievement.
Paul Forsyth in The Scotsman:
Watson's competitive instincts are what have made the last few days possible. Like Nicklaus, he has resolved never to be a ceremonial golfer, which casts doubt on the wisdom of the R&A's decision to grant exemptions only to players aged 60 or under. Next year's Open at St Andrews will be Watson's last, unless he chooses to go through qualifying.
The man is an inspiration. Not only is he an example to the weekend hackers ambling towards retirement, he is a reason to take up golf in the first place, for in no other sport is it possible to play, and compete, for so long. He has lifted Seve Ballesteros, who says it has made him want to make a comeback. Nicklaus, too, is watching on television, doubtless rubbing his eyes in disbelief. Never mind Old Tom Morris, old Tom Watson is on the brink of something special.
Jaime Diaz breaks down a possible Watson win more scientifically and says it would rank as the greatest single tournament victory in the history of golf.
John Hopkins in the Times:
Such a performance would surpass the victory in the 1986 Masters by Jack Nicklaus when he was 46. It would exceed Ben Hogan's victory in the 1950 US Open 16 months after he had nearly been killed in a car accident in Texas. Tiger Woods's acquisition of 14 major championships pale in comparison. Even Woods's 15-stroke victory in the 2000 US Open, an achievement Watson calls the most impressive thing he has ever known in golf, would be a lesser achievement than a man who is two months short of his 60th birthday winning one of the game's four annual major championships.
Garry Smits also puts a Watson win above the Nicklaus comeback at the 1986 Masters. Maybe Watson has Weiskopf's return to the booth to thank?
Bob Smiley lands a shot of Watson's unique courtesy car.
Fisher, Westwood and Goggin
John Huggan tells us all about Ross Fisher and includes this:
Paired with the 1989 champion at Royal Troon, Mark Calcavecchia, in a near facsimile of the "tortoise and the hare", the oh-so-slow-moving Fisher made the sort of start every player yearns for before the off. A pair of steady pars at the opening holes was followed immediately by a nifty 20-foot putt for birdie at the par-4 third. Suddenly, the world was a beautiful place, appropriate given the spectacular scenery that surrounds the storied Ailsa course.
One did have to wonder, however, just how taken Calcavecchia was with Fisher's tortuous pace. He is, after all, the man who described being paired with Sir Nick as "like playing alone, only slower".
Speaking of Fisher's pace, Mark Reason tags along with John Paramor and explains in must read fashion the methodology on Open slow play timing. It seems Fisher has been close to a penalty several times.
When a golfer is put on the clock he has 40 seconds to play unless he is the first in the group to hit. On Friday morning Fisher received his bad time for taking 67 seconds. He then took 44 seconds over seven subsequent shots.
A cruel referee could have penalised Fisher on each of those occasions, but Paramor is more like a benign policeman. He gives the player 10 per cent leeway, like a traffic cop only pulling in a driver for doing 78mph on the motorway. This week Paramor invited the Telegraph to see how he goes about his business.
And this was beautiful:
Another message comes through on Paramor’s earpiece. Even the news of Tiger missing the cut couldn’t be more exciting. It’s time to put Monty’s group on the clock. Colin Montgomerie, one of the fastest players on tour, KJ Choi, not one of the fastest players on tour, and Zach Johnson are behind schedule.
Paramor steers his buggy under the ropes and waits for the players. He tells each man in turn that they are on the clock. Choi gives him an old-fashioned look. There is history here. Paramor gave the Korean a bad time in his national Open. Monty looks like a firecracker has exploded behind his eyes.
He quickens his pace and heads straight for a 'ball spotter’ working for the BBC. The man has twice got in the group’s way and held up play. Monty has words and the man in the stripy jumper flees the course.
Richard Bath on Westwood's one greedy play and how it cost him a tie of the lead.
Within sight of the 18th green, it was a policy that looked certain to see him end the day with one of the handful of under-par rounds, and within a shot of overnight leader Tom Watson's mark of four-under. But then Westwood got greedy. He eschewed caddy Billy Foster's sage advice to hit right to compensate for the wind, ignored his own plan to go for the meat of the green, and went for the pin. Had he gone for the heart of the green, his shot would have been pin-high. Instead, it flumped into the bank of impenetrable grass just short of the green and plugged. His first attempt to dislodge the ball barely moved it, and although his second was a sublimely deft lob that put him close enough to finish with a single putt, he had still dropped back to two-under, a shot behind Matthew Goggins and compatriot Ross Fisher, and two behind Watson.
Paul Kelso consider England's chances.
Of the two, Westwood is most obviously ready to step up to the highest level. A European Tour fixture for 15 years, he has recovered the consistency that saw him win the Order of Merit a year after Lawrie’s Open win, and is increasingly putting himself in contention for majors.
At last year’s US Open, he was a shot away from joining Woods and Rocco Mediate in a play-off, and having seen off Woods in the opening two rounds here this week, he had no excuse for a shortage of self-belief.
Steve Elling on Westwood's chances, includes this:
Playing alongside Woods and Japanese teen Ryo Ishikawa, Westwood birdied the first three holes of the first round and has had few major issues since, at least compared with most players. Westwood cracked that the media circus left town Saturday, sort of like Woods and Ishikawa, who both missed the cut.
"I couldn't believe it on the first tee today; there were about five photographers there," he said. "I wondered where they had all gone. I thought they were there for me [the first two days], but obviously not."
Derek Clements on Matt Goggin and his pairing with Watson Sunday.
One of the highlights of his professional career was when he played with Tom Watson in the third round of The Open at Royal St George’s in 2003. “I just learnt so much from him. I mean, here was a guy who was getting on in years, but he just hit the ball beautifully and managed his game and the course superbly. To be honest, it was scary how good he was. Six years later, here he is at the top of the leaderboard again. It’s just incredible,” he said.
Reason in the Telegraph:
Fisher, the bookies’ favourite, does not talk about winning a major, he talks about winning majors. That is good to hear, but he will have to hole the putts today. Fisher has the long game, but does he have the touch and the unblinking belief to hole the clutch putts.
Will It Come Down To 17?
Oliver Brown in The Telegraph:
On Friday, the one day when the 17th played downwind, the field helped themselves to birdies with uncommon voracity. Among the top-20 players profiting from yesterday’s more placid conditions, only one, Justin Rose, failed to pick up a shot.
“The one hole that is disappointing is 17,” he said. “They moved the tee so far back that it’s a very boring hole. It plays so long that you can’t reach the green in two.
And while you're reading about the course, Jim McCabe zeroes in on the par-5 7th and Jim Furyk's play there.
John Huggan addresses the annual absurdity of all the empty seats on No. 18, the interview room, Dan Jenkins, the ridiculous 9th fairway and the wonderful 16th.
Justin Rose is at +2 over and envisions a scenario where he could make a comeback.
Mark Soltau with the day's best quotes, and Weinman/Johnson file birdies and bogeys including some fun on-site observations.
Ewan Murray on Seve's hoped-for return in 2010 at St. Andrews.
And finally, the Jenkins Tweet of the day:
Did I mention that already today?
Nothing against Ross Fisher or Matt Goggin (a sharp and insightful guy), but Watson is salvaging an otherwise bizarre tournament on a strange setup.
Is he going to hang on tomorrow? He leads by 1, two months shy of turning 60.
Steve Marino makes triple bogey after nearly losing his ball in the primped-up rough just right of Turnberry's 15th green. Is this what the R&A and Turnberry thinks represents pure golf? Links golf? Proper golf?
It's rough clearly hit with irrigation overspray. Yet it's been a wet spring we've been told. So why are they watering?
We're not even 24 hours removed from Tiger Woods' first missed cut in the Open Championship and we already have a winner in the inevitable Blame Hank Haney Sweepstakes!
Steve Elling reports that it's Mark James, working for the BBC:
"If I was Tiger, I'd be having serious words with my coach,"' James said. "I'd be disappointed if I had a [swing] plane like that after all the buildup."
I'll get to this defensive golf nonsense in a moment. And let me say, Thank God for Tom Watson.
Okay, Jenkins Tweets:
Now, Ross Fisher should be commended for saying the right thing. He wants to be with his wife for the birth of his first child, announcers swoon, women cry and the world is a better place.
But let's think about the well being of the child. What would be better for his or her long term health and security?
Dad, stinking up the waiting or delivery room, or possibly winning the Open Championship?
Win the Open, and Ross/Rossette is set for life and therefore likely to be well taken care of, going to college, etc...
Pass up the Open victory chance, have dad there to witness the billionth child birth, and what good does that do the youngster? Maybe dad never gets another chance, ends up toiling on the mini-tours and the young lad grows up to work the carnival circuit picking up elephant dung? Not that's there's anything wrong with that.
But I'm just asking...
Alliss agrees with me!
"In an ideal world" he says, Fisher's wife tells him to stay, play and come home with the trophy and she greets him with a healthy newborn.
The ledes sum up a wild and wacky day at Turnberry.
Mark Reason in the Telegraph:
Tom Watson was supposed to be a one-day wonder, an old vaudeville act with a limited run, but here he was on the 18th green high-kicking his way to a share of the lead of the Open Championship.
Lawrence Donegan in The Guardian:
The dream continues for Tom Watson but not for Tiger Woods – two giants of the game whose paths diverged on a dramatic day at Turnberry that saw the wind rise, the scores soar and the Ailsa course take revenge on her tormentors.
Doug Ferguson for the AP:
Tom Watson leading the British Open heading to the weekend?
Tiger Woods gassing up the plane and heading for home?
Treacherous Turnberry delivered a pair of shockers Friday.
Mark Lamport-Stokes filing for Reuters:
The British Open's renowned unpredictability with its vagaries of weather was sharply highlighted on Friday when Tom Watson, 59, tied for the lead and world number one Tiger Woods missed the cut.
Derek Lawrenson in the Daily Mail:
For two days this 138th Open Championship has resembled a reality television show, in which the two most famous men in the field who happen to share the same initials have agreed to swap roles.
James Corrigan in the Independent
It was the day Turnberry turned into a monster and did the unthinkable – it swallowed a Tiger.
Larry Dorman in the New York Times:
Time-worn themes and conventional wisdom about how to succeed in the 138th Open Championship shifted faster than the weather on the Ayrshire coast Friday, and the names on the leader board did the same.
Graham Spiers on Watson's mid-round resurgence.
“Gaun yersel’, Tom!” a Scottish voice shouted as he strode briskly down a fairway. Watson, who thinks of himself as something of a mimic, often attempts a Scottish accent that comes out sounding Polish and he may not have understood that “gaun yersel’” is an Ayrshire cry of encouragement. But he smiled and accepted the acclaim in a way he has come to perfect over the past 35 years.
Bob Harig on Watson's round and his 18th hole celebratory leg kick:
Watson birdied the ninth and 11th holes, then added two long putts at the 16th and 18th holes that he estimated were each 60 feet in length, the last one getting a huge reaction from the chilled fans in the jammed bleachers and a celebratory hop and leg kick from Watson.
"That was my Scottish jig," he said.
Jay Coffin on the pep talk Sergio gave Watson mid-round. Yes, you read that right.
Tim Rosaforte helps us get to know the man who had 22 putts, almost won at Colonial and will probably be off the radar by the end of Sunday's round. He also talks to Steve Sr. about how Steve Jr. got to this point.
Cameron Morfit on the 1989 Champion:
Calcavacchia, whose wife, Brenda, is his caddie this week, has talked a lot about beer since he landed. After his first-round 67, when he hit 17 greens in regulation, he mentioned how much fun he's been having getting to know other players like Lucas Glover, Matt Kuchar and Boo Weekley in the Duel in the Sun Pub.
"The beer is very tasty," he said.
That's not something you hear much from today's robopros, but there's nothing like the almighty pint to ingratiate yourself with the locals. After his round Friday, Calcavecchia was asked if it's true he's been allowing himself the odd post-round libation. And how many is he allowing himself?
"Four seems to be a nice round figure," he said, eliciting laughter. "It's just enough, but it's not too many."
Bill Elliott in The Guardian:
Although he said later that he played "pretty bad at Winged Foot", the US Open of 2006, few who have marvelled at his play over the last decade and beyond could recall such a disastrous sortie across such an important arena.
Seven shots were dropped during this time, Woods's ball control suddenly absent in action, his usual focus also off somewhere. He looked alarmed during this dreary spell and no wonder for this was not just a big hiccup but may turn out to have been something more sinister.
What seems certain, given the perverse nature of this game, is that this run of bogey, bogey, double bogey, par, bogey, double bogey will have sown a small seed of doubt in even this player's mind.Wild swings, lost balls, fluffed pitches, disappointing putts are not this guy's usual ammunition but he showered this links with all this sort of stuff.
Gene Wojciechowski at ESPN.com:
Obligatory dumb post-round question: "What's next for you?"
Woods: "Well, go home, get something to eat. I'm really hungry right now."
He'll have plenty of time to chow down this weekend. Maybe even mow the yard. Play with the kids. Watch somebody else win the Open Championship, the same championship for which oddsmakers made him a 2-1 favorite.
There's no nice way of describing his first missed cut since the 2006 U.S. Open and only his sixth MC as a pro. Woods played semi-awful. Jimmy Fallon could have beaten him.
Nick Hoult in the Telegraph:
Having faltered in benign conditions on the Thursday, when his drives spilt left and right, Woods was conservative as he started his second round. It all felt rather flat as Woods played within himself on the first six holes. He didn't even lose his temper with the phalanx of photographers training their lenses on Woods' playing partner Ryo Ishikawa. Instead it was left to the spectators to vent their spleen on the snappers.
PGATour.com documents his missed cuts in PGA Tour events. It's not a long list.
Rex Hoggard imagines what kind of text Tiger will receive from Roger Federer and talks to a swing coach who chalks up the MC to the vagaries of links golf.
Matt Dickinson in The Times:
Another six followed at the 13th when Woods hit his approach over the back of the green. His chip bounded up the bank, but then rolled back down the slope. His next three shots were played with the resignation of a man who knew that, whatever he did in the next hour, he would not be adding to his tally of major titles.
He barely looked to see if his putts would roll left or right. For all he cared, they could trundle downhill all the way to the sea.
James Lawton following a similar theme in his Independent column:
The bewilderment re-doubled at the 12th when he bogeyed after finding a bunker from the tee and then there was another disaster at the 14th when he double-bogeyed again – this time after watching a chip from the right of the green slide back down the slope and then skitter further away from the hole.
It was at this point that a rare expression crossed the face of Tiger Woods. It wasn't anger, it wasn't concern, it wasn't even apprehension. It was disbelief. It was the sense that his world, all the certainties upon which he has built his fabulous reputation, were sliding away before his eyes.
And Steve Elling notes this:
With the breeze blowing, Woods put his 5-wood back in the bag before the round and ditched the 2-iron he used Thursday, but regardless of the ammo, he seemed to have trouble all week keeping the ball under the wind and hit several parachuting shots that sailed far afield. There were few, if any, trademark stingers, other than the slap in the face of going home early.
Oliver Brown on lurking Lee Westwood and Andy Farrell on Ross Fisher's chances along with the possibility of an early departure to be with his wife.
Thomas Bonk conducts a Q&A with Boo Weekley about life in Scotland.
Q: So it sounds like you're liking Scotland?
Boo: "Oh, yeah, Scotland's a pretty place. I mean, as long as it ain't raining."
John Hopkins analyzes Friday's setup while defending the difficulty and he also quotes several players who felt there was an over reaction to Thursday's low scoring.
In that case, the aim was achieved yesterday. One player after another commented on the difficult positions in which the flagsticks were placed and suggested that perhaps the Royal and Ancient had determined that the low scoring of the first day would not be repeated.
“Every flag is in the toughest possible position,” Retief Goosen said. Padraig Harrington added: “No 14 was the first pin I thought was accessible. Every other one was pretty tough.”
John Daly said it was “brutal”, adding: “Pin placements were extremely tough. The way the wind was blowing, it was impossible to get at them.”
Justin Rose went farther. “Flag placements were bordering on the ridiculous,” he said. “I think they were trying to protect the golf course. The flags were opposite to where the wind was wanting to take the ball. I was fighting it all day. When the wind was from the left, the pins were cut on the left. When it was downwind, the pins were cut on the front, and when it was into the wind, the flags were at the back of the green.”
If you can't believe that Sandy rambled on about Monty even more as we noted here, I give you the video evidence courtesy of reader Lloyd.
In my favorite piece of the day, Brian Viner's effort is headlined: Monty overdoes the death stare as his game deserts him.
There is, in fact, more chance of Prince Charles designing a futuristic chrome office block with its plumbing on the outside. Photographers are a reviled species to Monty, who on the ninth tee took exception to a snapper lying prostrate and motionless in the official vantage point. Nobody else over the course of the first two days here had been troubled, as was intrepidly pointed out by a woman holding a "Quiet Please" sign. "It was all right for Tiger Woods yesterday," she dared to tell Monty. A scowl was her reward.
It remains one of the mysteries of golf that a man capable of such beguiling charm off the course can be so spectacularly charmless on it. Monty smashed his tee shot on the ninth into deep rough, so deep that at first neither he, his caddie, nor the marshals, could find it. The spectators watched the search sympathetically from the other side of the ropes.
Monty glared at them. "You can help if you'd like to," he said, the implication being that they didn't have to stand there being quite so useless. A few minutes later he galumphed off the green with a six on his card, and as he made his way to the next tee, a man called out, plainly in a spirit of encouragement rather than provocation, "Well done, Colin". Rather like a juggernaut, Montgomerie came to a juddering halt. His eyes bored into the hapless spectator. "I've just double-bogeyed the hole, mate," he snapped back. Rarely did anyone feel less like Monty's mate.
The poor attendance is festering into a story as a second day of empty stands caught Ewan Murray's eye. Ticket prices combined with Turnberry's location seem to be the issue.
There are, of course, a host of explanations for this year's poor turnout. The economic climate is widely blamed. Given an adult couple attending the Open for a day can expect little change out of £200 this will be a luxury many will simply choose to do without. Turnberry is also notoriously difficult to get to; even with new traffic measures in operation there were tales this morning of cars crawling 30 miles short of the course.
And based on these Forecaddie Tweets, it doesn't sound like the situation will be any better next year.
Mark Soltau compiles the best quotes of the day while Sam Weinman and E. Michael Johnson tabulate the Birdies and Bogeys of the day, starting with a beauty involving bookie William Hill and Ian Poulter.
The Golfweek gang talks to Calc, James Driscoll, Padraig, Poulter and Josh Geary about their Open play.
Alan Shipnuck files random thoughts, including an announcement that he's off the Geoff Ogilvy bandwagon.
Doug Ferguson's AP notes include a look at the small crowds...outside the ropes and Aussie Daniel Gaunt (a Watson practice round playing partner).
Rich Lerner delivers Hooks and Cuts:
Watson was born in 1949. For context, other athletes born in 1949 include Mike Schmidt, Bill Buckner, Dusty Baker, hockey great Bobby Clarke, Joe Theisman, Ahmad Rashad and Dan Dierdorf. Imagine for a moment those guys still playing. And winning!
For two days this 138th Open Championship has resembled a reality television show, in which the two most famous men in the field who happen to share the same initials have agreed to swap roles.
And finally, I couldn't pick one of the Dan Jenkin's Tweets. It's a five-way tie in my view!
Tiger Woods Misses Second Major Cut; Western World Anxiously Awaits To See If Saturday Sun Will Rise In East, Set In West
ABC apparently sent out a breaking news alert that they just lost 3-4 ratings points that Tiger Woods missed the Open Championship cut, and Tony Jimenez confirms with quotes from Tiger after his 74/145 total.
This AP story is so much fun. Monty, asked what he thought of Lyle's delusions of a vice captaincy:
"I thought that it was rather amusing when he said he hoped it doesn't jeopardize his vice captaincy position. I thought it was very, very funny."
Sandy the comedian couldn't keep his trap shut Friday either.
Each time Lyle has tried to explain himself, he has added fodder for British media. Friday was no exception.
"It's been taken probably a little out of context," Lyle said after a 73 to finish at 8-over 148. "I have never, ever tried to sort of stir the pot. I hope he goes out and shoots about a 67 and all will be forgotten."
Oh no, he didn't do it again?
"I'm not fabricating anything. It's all been dealt with over the last so many months and years about what happened in Jakarta," Lyle told BBC TV. "I'm just going about my business and sometimes I have to just protect myself as well. I was hassled a lot from the press about the jeopardy of the captaincy of the Ryder Cup, was my walking off the golf course putting me in trouble.
"Monty wasn't exactly squeaky clean, was he? He's had his troubles as well."
Lyle said that he was reluctant to say any more about the conflict with Montgomerie, who has won a record eight Order of Merit titles.
"I feel sorry for Colin in some ways because I don't really want to keep stirring the pan and I keep opening my mouth and keep making the back pages," Lyle said. "I think we have to call it an end and deal with it behind the scenes."
Really, decided four days was enough?
Lyle was asked whether it was bad judgment in the circumstances to refer to Montgomerie on Thursday as a "drama queen."
"He's an emotional sort of person and gets a bit hot under the collar and I suppose with comments like this and the papers it doesn't help," Lyle said. "But he'll get over it. He's a big enough boy and he'll go out there and play golf and I hope he shoots 68 today."
Contacted soon after by GeoffShackelford.com for clarification, Lyle was asked again about how he hoped Monty would play in response to being called a cheater.
"As I've said, he's a tough man, I really hope he goes out and fires a 69 today, or a 70, maybe a 71, and in this wind, anything under 85 would be impressive for a man of his talents."
I think you know what happened, just in case, a few ledes:
Lawrence Donegan in The Guardian:
Miguel Angel Jiménez's rolling putt across Turnberry's 18th green in the evening gave the Spaniard the first-round lead but it could not deny the old warrior Tom Watson another day in the sun.
James Corrigan in the Independent:
For more than six hours the dream was on, the clock was rewound and golf was again basking in its golden age. At the age of 59, Tom Watson was about to become the oldest man in history to lead after the first round of a major. And not any old major but an Open Championship at Turnberry of all things. Nostalgia floated in on the gentle breeze, bringing with it the memories of 1977 and that sunlit duel.
Derek Lawrenson in the Daily Mail:
American legend Tom Watson didn't so much roll back the years as pummel them into submission with a stunning 65 in the first round of The Open.
Mark Reason in the Telegraph:
Ol' Tom Watson just keeps rolling along, as timeless as the Mississippi river. The 59 year-old from Kansas blazed round Turnberry in 65 strokes as the years tumbled back.
Wasn't that the same score Watson shot 32 years ago when he stared down Jack Nicklaus in the famous 'Duel in the Sun'? They say that time and tide wait for no man. They were wrong. The time and tide at Turnberry always wait for Watson.
Doug Ferguson writing for the AP:
Tom Watson, famous for winning the “Duel in the Sun” that forever links him with Turnberry, is at the stage in his career where the British Open should be a ceremonial stroll into the sunset.
This is the era of Tiger Woods. This is the title defense of Padraig Harrington.
Yet at age 59, with wrinkles framing his gap-tooth grin, Watson poured in birdie after birdie, reviving his spiritual connection on Scottish links with a bogey-free round of 5-under 65.
Michael Bamberger on Watson who I forgot also won a Senior Open at Turnberry.
Jack and Barbara — and Watson's current wife, Hilary — were there for the 2003 Senior British Open win, without the bottles of wine, at least for Tom, who doesn't drink these days. This year, it's Hilary and assorted friends. On the bag is Neil Oxman, who first encouraged Bruce Edwards to ask Tom Watson for work way back when in 1973. Watson's been saying the same thing for some years now: as you get older, the things you appreciate are not the things you do for yourself, but the things you do for and with family and real friends.
Jeff Babineau for Golfweek:
Wednesday night, Watson received a text from Barbara Nicklaus, who said she’d seen a flattering picture of Watson’s caddie, Neil Oxman, and wished Watson well. Watson texted back that he misses seeing Jack at the Open, just as the Open will miss Watson when he walks away at age 60 in St. Andrews next July. The way this week has unfolded, though, from solid practice rounds to his opening round magic, Watson said there has been a spiritual sense to it all.
“Just the serenity of it was pretty neat,” he said.
Thomas Bonk for GolfDigest.com:
In his rush to keep up with Tiger Woods as he left the 18th green Thursday, caddie Steve Williams broke into a brisk trot, pulled off his caddie bib and, in one fluid motion, tossed it backwards to the attendant while knocking his own cap to the ground, never bothering to pick it up.
Woods was going somewhere, anywhere, and he was going fast. Where Woods wasn't going in the first round of the British Open was up the leader board. He opened with a one-over 71, continuing his downward trend of starting a major championship heading in the wrong direction.
See, that's why Stevie normally takes the bib off early!
Damon Hack on Tiger's opening round:
If rust and a cold driver hurt Woods at Augusta National and weather and a cold putter slowed him at the United States Open at Bethpage Black, Woods would have to look hard for an alibi through one round at Turnberry. The wind was down. Birdies and eagles were plentiful. Woods was stuck in neutral.
Art Spander considersthe odds of Woods win now, and other betting options for those who are blessed with the option (that would exclude those of us in the land of the free).
Mickey Stafford files several notes, including an item on Watson having little trouble finding his room at Turnberry. It's named after him.
Steve Elling on Ben Curtis' love of links golf.
John Hopkins says "Sandy Lyle has hijacked the 138th Open" and demands: Put a sock in it, Sandy, we said. Now we say: please, please put a sock in it, Sandy. Give over. Leave Montgomerie alone. Let's get on with the golf. It is much more interesting than your vendetta.
Jay Coffin on Miguel Angel Jimenez'scigar smoking andon highlightsfrom UK radio's coverage. My favorite:OnBoo Weekley: “Boo Weekley sounds like a newspaper for ghosts. But it’s not, it’s a golfer.”
And Coffin on Sergio tipping his cap to the gallery that was cheering for Watson.
Jay Busbee suggests that we better respect the villainous 16th hole.
Chris Chase on how nice it was to hear Tom Weiskopf's calming presence.
Mickey Stafford on a new rule that forbids patrons from leaving and re-entering on the same day. The R&A says it's to improve traffic, local businesses aren't buying that explanation.
Robert Winder on several topics, including a popular topic: Ian Poulter's outfit backfiring.
Alistair Tait asks, "Where is everybody?" and wonders about the lackluster attendance.
I’ve never experienced a quieter first day of an Open Championship than this one. When Tom Watson walked up the 18th hole, the grandstands were only a quarter full. And it was noon! I know Turnberry is out of the way and there’s a recession, but come on: This is The Open for goodness sake!
And finally, the Jenkins Tweet's of the day (it was a tie!):
Thanks to Putmedownfora6 for this priceless James Tozer story from The Sun detailing Kayti (huh!?) Dryer, who had checked golf clubs and paid a visit to Customs where they asked her what her handicap was.
When she was unable to answer, they seized the clubs and found £83,000 worth of cocaine hidden inside the shafts.
Yesterday the 23-year-old was starting a four-year prison sentence after admitting smuggling the drugs.
Dryer was questioned after her golf bag was X-rayed at Manchester Airport when she got off a flight from the Caribbean in April. She claimed to have taken the clubs on holiday to Montego Bay in Jamaica.
An airport source said: 'When asked about her handicap, she looked blank and asked them to repeat the question. They asked her again, she gave no response.
'She clearly did not know what they were talking about and had no idea it was even a golfing term. It appeared as if she thought they were asking her if she had a disability.'
Traces of cocaine were revealed when Customs officers swabbed her luggage, and when they cut the clubs into pieces they found a 1kg stash.
Just when you thought it was safe to watch some golf and put our little Monty-Lyle drama to rest, it seems Sandy Lyle spoke up after round one. Jenkins Tweets: "This duel could be pistols at sunrise."
From a BBC report:
"We sometimes call him a bit of a drama queen. He's probably milking it a bit," Lyle told BBC Radio 5 Live.
There's a way to ensure the situation will not go away!
The pair are both competing in the 138th Open Championship and 51-year-old Lyle says his attempts to speak with Montgomerie have so far failed.
"He keeps disappearing," said Lyle.
"I've tried to talk to him but I don't think he wants to talk to me right now.
"He's got to get around to it and stop hiding behind the manager and come out and we'll have a talk.
"It's annoying how it's worked out, but he should see that too.
"He's had many years experience with the press and he should be a man about it, we'll get together and sort it out over a few pints at some stage."
As usual TNT sent some of the highlights from their broadcast. This used to be the worst of Bobby Clampett, but we actually had some very nice commentary today. I was particularly pleased to see surprise analyst Tom Weiskopf who lent his typically relaxed and enjoyable commentary while preventing Curtis Strange from talking even more.
[Tom] Watson on how he feels after his first round 65 at Turnberry, compared to his famous win at the Open in 1977: “The body’s a little bit older, but the enthusiasm out there today was very similar. It was a wonderful day to play, there was very little wind. The course is obviously defenseless, a lot of the scores are going to be under par today because of that. It’s a good beginning round for me and the wind ought to pick up tomorrow afternoon according to the forecast, so she’ll have some teeth tomorrow and I’m looking forward to that.”
Watson on being more competitive against young players on links courses: “I’ve said that (that links courses are the great equalizer) about my ability to play against the kids. I can’t play against the kids at Augusta National, it’s just too soft. The golf course is too soft and too long and I’m hitting the wrong clubs into the holes. But I’ve said on links golf courses I can get it out there and get the ball rolling.”
Watson on adding a sixth Claret Jug trophy to his collection: “I could use one of those. I’m not being greedy, either.”
Alliss on providing analysis on Tiger Woods: “Criticizing Tiger Woods is like telling Muhammed Ali how to box or (Roger) Federer how to serve.”
Since platinum blond is the signature method for detection by most American Tour wives/girlfriends/partners/etc..., perhaps John Daly's girlfriend is signaling the next trend for getting noticed: matching outfits. Or perhaps it's the next clothing line, though something tells me Daly Wives Collection won't make the final name cut.
"Tiger Woods's nasty push into the burn on 16 is one of the worst shots I've seen him hit in a major. Ever."
Alan Shipnuck says that shot and his opening 71 add up to a "pretty ominous sign."
More importantly, Shipnuck notes this about his playing partner:
Round of the day might have been Ryo Ishikawa's 68, accomplished playing in front of his hero Tiger Woods and his nemeses--the hundred or so Japanese reporters that obsessively chronicle his every twitch. For his first spin around a true links course, to say nothing of the holy Open, the kid displayed admirable imagination and tremendous poise. Take that, Rory!
Bob Harig runs though the round highs and lows and the link also features video of Tiger's post round press conference.
For the day, he hit just 8 of 14 fairways, despite using mostly irons off tees. He did hit 12 of 18 greens and needed 30 putts.
Ian Chadband in the Telegraph offers a, uh, more detailed account of the round's saltier moments.
His confidence with the driver seemed so low that he used it just three times and found himself in the rough each time. Yet even his long irons from the tee let him down.
At the third, when he hoiked his drive left, he cried "Godammit!". On the 13th, when he ploughed one into a bank on the right of the fairway, the expletive was shorter and sharper.
Jim McCabe on Lee Westwood and the circus surrounding the pairing:
“I can say a couple of times I stood off,” Westwood said, and for sure there were two moments when he shot an icy stare at the photographers. “But I didn’t play a shot where I wasn’t concentrating and wasn’t ready to play that shot.”
It was a head-scratcher when R&A officials announced the Woods-Ishikawa pairing. (Westwood was no surprise. After all, it’s the fourth time he’s been grouped with Woods in the opening two rounds of a major. Must be a “w” thing.) Woods easily commands the huge majority of camera and reporting interest no matter where he plays. Ishikawa? If he were paired with Happy Gilmore and Judge Smails the Japanese photographers would be out there three and four dozen strong.
So mixing the two media-magnets together, especially on a links golf course where so many of the pathways are narrow and demand slow, cautious travel . . . well, let’s just say that the R&A lads have made wiser decisions. (Of course, it must have thrilled the Japanese TV entity, but surely that’s a coincidence, no?)
Watson says he's not surprised by his round, which would be consistent with his pre-tournament comments. What makes it even more amazing is that he's just nine months removed form hip replacement surgery performed here in the Home of the Homeless.
Turnberry, Scotland. July, 2009 -- Tom Watson's first round of 65 put him at the top of the leaderboard of the British Open, nine months after he had anterior hip replacement surgery in October, 2008. Watson returned to competitive golf in January, 2009 just three months after the surgery performed by Dr. Joel Matta at the Hip and Pelvis Institute at St John's Health Center in Santa Monica, CA. Watson has participated in several Champions Tour events this year.
Turnberry in 1977 was the site of one of the most momentous duels in major championship golf history. Watson and Jack Nicklaus posted 66s on Saturday that year, then Watson bested Nicklaus by a stroke on Sunday, 65 to 66, to win the Claret Jug, the British Open trophy. Two years earlier Watson won his first Open victory at Carnoustie. He went on to win three more titles at Muirfield, Troon and Birkdale. “It’s good to play in an Open at Turnberry again,” said Watson after he returned to the site of his epic 1977 win. His 65 on Thursday defined how well he has recovered from last October's surgery. The March, 2009 issue of Golf Digest featured Watson's hip replacement surgery
The anterior approach surgery procedure is a technique that minimizes the pain and time from surgery to recovery. The anterior approach allows the surgeon to reach the hip joint from the front of the hip as opposed to the lateral (side), or the posterior (back) approach, both of which can cause significant muscular damage. With the anterior approach the hip can be replaced without detachment of muscle from the pelvis or femur during surgery. By way of this anterior approach the surgeon can simply work through the natural interval between the muscles, rather than detaching them. In this way the gluteal muscles that attach to the pelvis and femur are left undisturbed in the anterior approach. Therefore, these muscles do not require a healing process after the surgery.
The merits of the anterior approach procedure are several: 1) Less muscle trauma for the patient; 2) reduced hospital stay; 3) smaller incision - 4 to 5 inches as opposed to 10 to 12 inches; 4) faster recovery - 2 to 8 weeks as opposed to 2 to 4 months; 5) additional benefits include reduced pain, reduced tissue healing required, reduced risk of dislocation, and a more rapid return to normal activities.
Nice memories from Dan Jenkins courtesy of Mike O'Malley about Watson and the '77 Open.
John Hopkins on the Monty-Lyle spat:
To outsiders, the tempest at Turnberry was baffling. "Can't you keep your men in order?" an American visitor asked. To others it was a bit like watching an army advancing on a Scottish castle and the generals turning round and seeing that fighting had broken out in their own ranks.
And love the photo accompanying the piece. Though Monty may not care for that profile view, it is worth it for the look on Lyle's face.
I figured it was my back going out or the raging ear infection that kept me from compiling daily clippings. After all, early week at the Open usually translates to loads of fun coverage on top of the traditional semi-news, slightly manufactured rows like Monty-Lyle.
But then a friend left a message wondering what percentage of stories I thought were about Tiger (he's not going to be hitting driver much!) or Padraig (he's got it all under control!) or Monty (he's not talking...sort of!). I'm liking 60-20-20 on the percentage breakdown.
And as this person noted--again, my ailments and odd predilection for news about major course setup getting in the way--why isn't anyone writing about the course setup or changes? As usual, we folks at home have to wait for the telecast to gauge just how the course is prepared and how it might play.
Which is odd when you are talking about a course no one has seen since 1994, which has undergone major changes under the R&A's supervision and which early reports suggested could get silly if the wind blows. And it all just happens to be a lot more interesting than most other rota members.
The Golf Channel and their in-studio team along with Frank Nobilo at Turnberry had this angle covered for us in the States by focusing on several key holes and the potential for disaster at No. 16.
Either way, mercifully they tee it up in a few hours at lovely Turnberry. If that doesn't generate some clippings worthy coverage...we're doomed.
Jaime Diaz touches on the course and it's penchant for drama, which he expects we'll see again despite a tougher setup and some changes to key holes. He's predicting plenty of birdies.
Peter Dixon features Euro Tour chief George O'Grady's overwhelmingly supportive statement on behalf of Monty after Sandy Lyle's remarks and this from Monty.
“I've had time to digest it and I've decided to say nothing,” he said.
You know I respect that. He wants to put this to rest and, wait, what? Oh...
“I don't think his comments warrant comment. I've come here to play golf and have been hit with this. Just because he is disappointed not to be made captain, please don't take it out on me.”
Okay that's it. Controversy ende...what. He talked to Lawrenson too?
'It has to affect whatever friendship we had, doesn't it?' he said. 'I just think it is so sad after I had supported his candidacy to be Ryder Cup captain through the whole process. Why does he feel the need to take it out on me? Is it my fault that the committee decided that they would like a younger man?'
Asked if it had ended any chance of Lyle being a vice-captain, Monty replied: 'I think you know the answer to that one.'