Journeyman Kendall proves to be a cut above the rest

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The Independent Online

Skip Who? It was a question on everyone's lips here last night as Skip Kendall climbed to the top of The Open leaderboard to set down his marker as this year's Ben Curtis.

Skip Who? It was a question on everyone's lips here last night as Skip Kendall climbed to the top of The Open leaderboard to set down his marker as this year's Ben Curtis.

The 39-year-old unknown, originally from Milwaukee, claimed his moment in the spotlight by shooting 66, the joint-best score of the day, to move to seven under par. He starts his third round today one shot ahead of Thomas Levet and two ahead of Barry Lane and KJ Choi, who are household names by comparison.

"I was very calm today and wasn't paying too much attention to the leaderboard. It was a glorious day," said a smiling Kendall.

"The main thing is for me to stay relaxed out there and have fun. The golf will take care of itself. But I know that there's a long way to go and this is only halfway done."

Kendall, now a resident of Windermere, Florida, has never won a PGA Tour event and has only played The Open twice before. He finished with a share of 59th place last year at Sandwich and missed the cut in 1998.

Sandwiches and cuts have combined to give him his greatest claim to fame prior to his heroics here. Last year he chopped off the top of his left index finger while cutting a frozen bagel.

Kendall calmly put the severed digit on ice, rushed to the hospital, had it stitched back on and was playing golf again 10 days later with a new grip.

"I was cutting a frozen bagel and I was trying to be very careful," he explained of his injury.

"It was a very sharp knife. I didn't have a microwave so I couldn't defrost the bagel first. And I was just kind of going around it, and the bagel slipped on the cutting board and the knife came down and my left forefinger happened to be in the way. I cut a big piece of it off and they had to sew it back on. All 10 digits are now complete and I'm back to my old grip."

It has been working to excellent effect here, no more so than when he holed a bunker shot on the third and then eagled the 16th with a 50-foot putt. But now, a maiden career win in his 311th tournament suddenly looks like less of a pipedream.

Troon's overnight hero explained after his round how his sporting life has rarely been glamourous.

"I started out playing mini tours in Orlando and couldn't quite make it so was working as a waiter in the Olive Garden restaurant," revealed Kendall, ranked 90 in the world.

"In between shifts I'd go to a field close to the restaurant to hit balls with my uniform on - bow tie, white shirt, black pants - because it was too hard to get the bow tie back on if I took it off. Can you imagine what people thought driving by?"

He also revealed how he met Prince Andrew, who is the captain of the R&A, during his first round on Thursday.

"I'd never met anyone like that before and on the 12th tee yesterday the official with our match said Prince Andrew was standing right behind the 11th green. I said 'Wow, I'd like to meet him' and they told me the protocol and I went and shook his hand."

American journalists were asking last night: "Who is Prince Andrew, exactly?"

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