Casey content despite nasty bump on the Road
Saturday 17 July 2010
It was Colin Welland, clutching the Academy Award he'd just received for writing Chariots of Fire, who famously declared that "the British are coming".
That was 29 years ago, in an entirely different sphere of entertainment, but it still makes sense to invoke Welland's stirring battle cry and not only because parts of Chariots of Fire were shot here in St Andrews, on the West Sands adjacent to the Old Course (masquerading somewhat inadequately, given the prominence of the globally recognisable Royal and Ancient clubhouse in the background, as Broadstairs in Kent).
No, the main reason for echoing "the British are coming" is that Sir Nick Faldo, among others, has been saying the same thing about this 139th Open Championship, and with seven Brits in the world's top 20 players, not a few of them high up on the leaderboard here, it is currently looking anything but an idle boast.
The first of the British players to make a serious move up the leaderboard yesterday was Paul Casey, loaded up with antibiotics to counter a throat infection, but not appearing remotely poorly as he holed birdie putts of around 15ft on each of the first three greens, and then birdied the seventh and eighth, to reach the turn in 31, eight under par for the championship. It was terrific scoring, the 32-year-old making the most of an early-morning start on what would be a day of two rather spectacular halves, weather-wise. Although the rain was sporadically torrential, there was scarcely a breath of wind until Casey turned for home, and in Opens it is wind rather than rain that wreaks havoc with the scorecard. Almost as if some kind of celestial lever had been pulled, however, the weather then changed. The rain stopped, the sun emerged, and the wind began to blow so fiercely from the west that it would eventually lead to the mid-afternoon suspension of play, followed by a late-afternoon suspension of disbelief, as the world's greatest golfers started to hit shots like 18-handicappers.
By then, Casey's round was long over, and like many fine players before him, he was reflecting on his misadventures on the notorious Road Hole. Having made a string of pars from the ninth, he stood on the 17th tee still at eight under, but walked to the 18th tee reduced to five under. A birdie at the last at least meant a second consecutive round of 69, with which the man ranked 10th in the world declared himself "very happy". He was less happy with the depth of the rough to the left of the 17th fairway, which he had found with a drive that was only marginally off line. So nasty was his lie that his only option was to chip out sideways. "But I couldn't go at it too hard," he later explained, "because if... it came out I could end up in room 312 [of the nearby Old Course Hotel]." Unfortunately, in trying to avoid room 312, he left his ball where it was. It took him three more shots to reach the green, followed by two putts and an ugly triple-bogey seven. One for room 101.
In the group behind, world No 3 Lee Westwood also had a health issue to deal with, having ruptured the exotic-sounding plantaris muscle in his right leg, but Worksop's finest produced an altogether steadier round than Casey's, a single birdie on the long fifth and 17 pars yielding a 71. However, on the 18th he missed a tiddler for another birdie, an embarrassment eclipsed by his playing partner Miguel-Angel Jimenez, who promptly missed an even shorter putt for a 66. Whatever, Westwood enters the weekend alongside Casey on 138, six under par. "I'm behind where I ought to be," he said. "I should really be 10-under at worst. But I didn't play last week. I didn't really hit any balls, either. I knew I was hitting the ball well, so there was not really any need to do too much practising. I'm just a bit rusty on the greens, which I might expect. We can sharpen it over the weekend, and no matter what the conditions are, I've still got a couple of good scores in me."
So far, it is the conditions here in the Kingdom of Fife that have influenced the Old Course scoreboards about as much as the young men and women who operate them. And Casey and Westwood, for all their frustrations, must have considered themselves mighty lucky to finish when they did, because behind them in a strengthening wind there was carnage, with more bellows of "fore!" than on a Sunday morning at your average municipal.
Still, the R&A want us to celebrate 150 years of Open Championships and there is no more apt weather in which to do it, for the elements were ever thus. The first Open at St Andrews, in 1873, took place on a waterlogged course, and in 1885 the Daily Mail spluttered that "furious and tyrannical weather has not even the advantage of keeping women away from the scene. Out they come in Mackintoshes, ulsters and deerstalking caps in their legions."
The wet-weather gear may have changed 125 years on, but the wet weather hasn't, and more of it is forecast for today and tomorrow. If the British really are coming, they're going to have to come through the wind and the rain.
Early second-round scores from St Andrews
The 139th Open Championship (Old Course, St Andrews, Fife). Early second-round scores (GB and Irl unless stated)
132 L Oosthuizen (SA)
137 M Calcavecchia (US)
138 P Casey, L Westwood
139 T Lehman (US), R Barnes (US), P Hanson (Swe), M A Jiminez (Sp), G McDowell, R Goosen (SA)
140 I Garrido (Sp), T Taniguchi (Japan), R Karlsson (Swe), M Kaymer (Ger)
141 S Lowry, V J Singh (Fiji), Y E Yang (S Kor), D Johnson (US)
142 J Overton (US), B Dredge, A Quiros (Sp), A Scott (Aus), S Garcia (Sp), M Siem (Ger), J Daly (US)
143 S Khan
144 P Senior (Aus), K Na (US), M Leishman (Aus), P Mickelson (US), T Aiken (SA), J Senden (Aus)
145 C Moriarty, S Verplank (US), L Donald, S Stricker (US), C Montgomerie, E Molinari (It), H Slocum (US), S Marino (US)
----------------- Projected cut ---------------------
146 H Miyase (Japan), R Fowler (US), Z Johnson (US), R S Johnson (Swe), D Chia (Malay), R Rock
147 *E Chun (S Kor), B Watson (US)
148 R Davies, B Crane (US), G Maybin, R Oda (Japan), Noh Seung-yul (S Kor)
149 B Curtis (US), A Cabrera (Arg), J Bohn (US), D A Points (US), T Hamilton (US)
150 K Oda (Japan), J Furyk (US), G Ogilvy (Aus), H Fujita (Japan), K J Choi (S Kor), P Goydos (US)
151 A Hansen (Den), S Lyle, F Molinari (It), T Petrovic (US), J Hugo (SA), P Lawrie, L Roberts (US)
152 K Barnes (Aus), D Fichart (SA), P Streeter, J Cunliffe (SA)
153 K Miyamoto (Japan), *V Dubuisson (Fr), M Goggin (Aus)
154 J Kelly (US), T Levet (Fr)
155 J M Lara (Sp), B Gay (US), Park Jae-bum (S Kor), G McNeill (US)
156 G Clark
157 G Day (US)
160 *L Canter
165 S Edwards
63 R McIlroy
66 A Coltart, S Tiley
67 N Watney (US), L Glover (US), S O'Hair (US), T Woods (US), F A Hed (Swe), A Canizares (Sp),
68 T Immelman (SA), R McGowan, O Wilson, R Fisher, C Villegas (Col), R Ishikawa (Japan), J Jeong (S Kor), H Stenson (Swe)
69 S Dyson, R Allenby (Aus), H Mahan (US), E Els (SA), M O'Meara (US), B Van Pelt (US)
70 R Moore (US), T Bjorn (Den), J Rose, C Wood, D Clarke, J B Holmes (US), Z Scotland, T Goya (Arg), Kim Kyung-tae (S Kor)
71 C Schwartzel (SA), T Clark (SA), S Cink (US), I Poulter, J Day (Aus), K Perry (US), S Gallacher
72 S Hansen (Den), N Faldo, S Kjeldsen (Den), G Fernandez-Castano (Sp), Y Ikeda (Japan), An Byeong-hun (S Kor), M Sim (Aus), T Pernice Jnr (US), M F Haastrup (Den)
73 B Haas (US), J Dufner (US), A Noren (Swe), P Harrington, T Watson (US), M Kuchar (US), D Love III (US), M Weir (Can), G Havret (Fr), J Abbott, T Whitehouse
74 M Laird, S Sonoda (Japan)
75 T Jaidee (Thai), P Archer
76 C Percy (Aus), J Leonard (US)
77 D Duval (US)
78 *T Hatton
81 E Porter (Aus)
* Denotes amateur
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