A different look for Day 2 
of the British Open

July 17, 2009

 

Ben Curtis of the US plays from the rough on the third hole during the second round of the British Open Golf championship, at the Turnberry golf course, Scotland , on Friday.


TURNBERRY, Scotland - Ahhh, that's more like it.

The wind kicked up at the British Open and so did the scores.

Ben Curtis bogeyed six holes on the front side to plummet off the leaderboard, first-round leader Miguel Angel Jimenez got off to a shaky start as well and Turnberry showed its teeth Friday, a striking change from the pristine conditions that left the course defenseless a day earlier.

The skies were ominously gray, a light drizzle was falling and it was cooler than Thursday, when Jimenez opened with a 6-under 64 that was just one stroke off the record for a major championship. The steadily increasing breeze off the Irish Sea figured to have the biggest impact on scoring, and forecasters said there could be gusts of up to 30 mph by the afternoon.

No one felt Turnberry's bite more than Curtis, who stunningly won the Open on his first try in 2003. After an opening 65, he briefly climbed into a tie for the lead with a birdie at No. 2 then took bogey at six of the next seven holes to send his score soaring to even par.

Jimenez started with a par, then bogeyed the next two holes after errant drives into the tall grass lining the fairways. Five-time champion Tom Watson and Japan's Kenichi Kuboya assumed the lead largely because they had yet to hit a shot.

Kuboya had a late-morning tee time, while Watson was not scheduled to start until early afternoon. With 48 players on the course, only four were below par quite a change from the 50 who finished in the red on a day that was mostly sunny, with barely a breeze to ripple the flags.

Tiger Woods failed to take advantage of Thursday's conditions, struggling to a 71 that he knew should have been so much better. Heck, the world's No. 1 player had as many thrown clubs as birdies (three each) and headed straight to the practice range to work on his swing.

While Jimenez claimed the lead with a 66-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole, Watson was the star of the opening day. The 59-year-old put together a bogey-free round and was at the top of the leaderboard for most of the round until he was passed by Jimenez and equaled by Curtis and Kuboya.

"There's certain shots on the golf course that I remember how to play," Watson said.

Even Jimenez, a ponytailed, cigar-smoking Spaniard known affectionately as "the Mechanic," deferred to the old-timer trailing him by a stroke.

"What a legend," Jimenez said.

Watson and Woods will be at the center of attention in the afternoon.

Watson is representin' the geriatric set, perhaps inspired by Greg Norman's performance at Birkdale a year ago. The Shark held the 54-hole lead at age 53, only to fade on the final day. Watson turns 60 in September and would be the oldest major champion in golf history by more than a decade if he could somehow keep it going for another three rounds.

Woods, on the other hand, came into this week as an overwhelming favorite but is facing the largest 18-hole deficit of his Open career. He knew he should have been at least two or three strokes better on Thursday, when a staggering 50 players broke par and another 17 matched it.

While Woods has missed only one major cut as a professional the U.S. Open following the death of his father he was closer to those who'll be fretting about making it to the weekend than he was to the lead.

Among those in dire straits: Rising American star Anthony Kim, who took a 9 at one hole, hit in a burn on another and struggled to an opening 73, and Norman, who failed to follow up last year's remarkable showing. The Aussie started with a 77 and needed a remarkable comeback just to hang around.

And don't forget Padraig Harrington, the two-time defending champion. He started with a solid 69 and parred the first two holes of the second round likely to be a good score on this day.

Associated Press