Open Championship round two: stand by for a howler
Friday the winner was the golf course. But Saturday’s victor looks like it might be the weather. The clouds that dumped an inch of rain on me in an hour in London Friday have now crossed the Scottish border and are swirling their way to Carnoustie. The players may well escape the worst, with the heaviest rain not due until the evening. But the wind is likely to be into the mid-teens for most of the day.
“It looks like it will be a a pretty tough day,” says Tiger Woods, who should know having struggled round in a howler in Monday’s practice.
It’s been tough enough already. I get the impression those that understand the ways of the wind around Carnoustie set the pins with particular precision on day two. That and the way the wind picked up during the day help explain why there were only five rounds in the sixties against 12 on day one.
The impending weather has certainly forestalled any talk of Tiger’s chances from here. He had his worst Open round in years Friday, not so much the biter bit as the Stinger stung. “He would not have hit a horse’s backside with a banjo,” was the colourful way one commentator summed it up.
But for the elements we could probably already have started talking about him never winning from behind on the final day, because even in Carnoustie’s most benign scoring conditions, and without him spraying his tee shots every which way, even Tiger would be pushed to make up a 7-shot deficit.
For me the most impressive performances so far have been those of K J Choi and Mike Weir. Despite some more exquisite shots Friday, Sergio Garcia had more than his fair share of luck - and by far the best of the conditions - and was already showing signs of the strains of leading, especially with the putter. He was even outshone by his fellow countryman Miguel Angel Jiminez, who was very unlucky not to score an ace on the 16th.
People don’t know Choi very well this side of the pond, which is why he has not received the coverage he deserves. But his solid brace of 69s is the work of a vastly underrated and in-form player. And what a surprise to see Canada’s finest in the mix after so long in the wilderness. Weir really got to grips with his driver Friday, missing just three fairways, to hit the lowest round of the day. The feat has been greeted with the utmost derision on the forums, but it would be folly to rule out a previous major winner.
Even with the loss of the likes of Phil Mickelson (again), David Toms (who was suffering from a cold), Justin Leonard (many people’s outside fancy), Stuart Appleby and Geoff Ogilvy, the top of the leaderboard has a fantastically strong look to it. And how about Boo Weekley’s stellar performance in his first outing outside mother America? What a tasty outside possibility he is at a price of 50.
Question now is, though, who can stand up best to Mother Nature? Until we know that, as I said before, all bets are off.
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