Norman's turn for the worse

The Open: Kite raises hope with early wave of birdies but his fellow Americans show how to strike back at the course
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The third day of the long, hot Open saw Royal Lytham make an attempt to retaliate against the men who had been so freely blasting her ancient reputation for the first two days of the Championship. The sun continued to work busily at hardening the contours and finally received its first intimation of help from an overdue wind. Human assistance came in the shape of far more challenging pin placements.

Men who had gloried in 36 holes of golf with only a couple of hundred bunkers to fret over, suddenly felt the worrying billowing of their trouser legs and had to find less inviting ways of getting close to the flags.

The first batch to return told of a harder challenge to be overcome, but as the leading group began to hit the course, the resistance began to crumble. The Americans David Duval and Steve Stricker were the first to make the significant breakthroughs - both returned to the clubhouse on 66 - that threatened another burst of low scores, but they were still hard to achieve as Greg Norman found when his surge to six under was snatched back on the homeward nine.

The Australian dropped three shots over the last five holes to find himself at three under, the point from which he had started. Norman three-putted the 14th from 20 feet and on the 16th he missed from six feet. At the last, his tee-shot buried itself in sand to complete his misery. Mark McNulty was another who was flattered by an outward 32. He dropped successive shots at 14, 15 and 16 to flash a warning to those behind that Lytham was becoming no pushover on the second nine.

After the early excitements and excursions of the first two days, the beginning of yesterday's action felt strangely muted. Narrowed down from 156 to 77 by Friday night's cut, the field did not have to stir itself for a 7.l5 tee-off as it had on Thursday and Friday. Yesterday's start was a more leisurely 8.45am when Jim Payne arrived at the first tee. As the odd man out, it was an honour he had alone.

Simon Avery, senior assistant professional at Royal Lytham, played as his marker and by the seventh had two birdies down on Payne's card. Thereafter, the round dribbled away to a 73 and was marked only by a sensation in the press tent that Payne knew nothing about.

The magic number one appeared opposite Payne's name on the scoreboard for the 357 yards par four 16th. An albatross! When did the Open have one of those. The record books were still being searched when the figure one was taken down and a five put in its place. This is the second year that the old radio telephones used to relay the scores have been replaced by hand-held computers. Someone had pressed the wrong key.

The fact that such a slip could dominate our minds is an indication of what a slow morning it was. On the previous two days, much of the low scoring came in the morning - Paul McGinley was in with a 65 by 11.30 on Friday - but Lytham, sun-baked as usual, had to wait until much later in the day for the more determined attempts to brush away the tricky breeze.

Tom Kite raised hopes by picking up four shots in the first seven holes, but the course took two back from him before he had finished. But his 69 was the best of the first dozen or so, until Stephen Ames and then John Daly equalled it.

Daly had counted himself lucky to be still in the Open. The putting problems that hit him half way through a promising first round continued to peck at his game on Friday, and when he arrived at the 18th he seemed destined to miss the cut with a 74. He knew he needed at least a birdie but he was 25 feet away after two shots and did not fancy his chances, particularly as the putt had eight feet of break. "It was one of those luck putts," he said afterwards.

Yesterday's round was a lot more solid and his success with a few early putts helped to settle him down. Daly so clearly enjoys himself over here and was asked if he intended to play here more often. The fact that he does not like flying makes it doubtful. "We were all horrified by the air crash back home on Friday," he said. "If we all had the money Greg Norman has, we would all buy our own planes."

Daly is tempted, nevertheless, to become self-airborne and, without a trace of humour, offered us encouraging information: "You know, you can get a really used plane for a million dollars."

He was, however, looking for something in the region of three million dollars and, no, he wasn't intending to fly it himself.

Back on the hardening ground, Brian Barnes had also returned a 69 despite a double-bogey on the short ninth, and Gordon Law, a little known Scot, might also have gained that figure had he not fouled up the 17th. Last year, Law was cheated of his first opportunity to play in the Open by a freakish incident. On the first tee in the qualifying round, his scorecard was not exchanged and his correct scores were on someone else's card. Even though his score was low enough to get through, he was disqualified for signing an incorrect card.

He made no mistake this year and was one of five qualifiers to reach Lytham and one of only two of those to make the cut. It has been an impressive performance by Law, who is club professional at the Uphall club near Edinburgh. Yesterday he was out in 33 and had a total of seven birdies before he came to the 17th, where he drove into the rough before visiting two bunkers for a seven that chained him to a level-par round.

Open diary, page 30

Early third-round scores

(GB or Irl unless stated)

* denotes amateur

207

S Stricker (US) 71 70 66

208

B Faxon (US) 67 73 68

209

D Duval (US) 76 67 66

G Turner (NZ) 72 69 68

210

F Nobilo (NZ) 70 72 68

J Parnevik (Swe) 72 69 69

M McNulty (Zim) 69 71 70

211

*T Woods (US) 75 66 70

A Cejka (Ger) 73 67 71

212

T Kite (US) 77 66 69

S Ames (Trin) 71 72 69

J Daly (US) 70 73 69

B Barnes 73 70 69

R Chapman 72 70 70

J Sluman (US) 72 70 70

N Price (Zim) 68 73 71

B Crenshaw (US) 73 68 71

213

E Darcy 73 69 71

J Haas (US) 70 72 71

D Frost (SA) 70 72 71

R Allenby (Aus) 74 68 71

R Boxall 72 70 71

S Lyle 71 69 73

S Simpson (US) 71 69 73

214

B Charles (NZ) 71 72 71

T Tolles (US) 73 70 71

P Stewart (US) 70 73 71

G Law 74 69 71

215

D A Weibring (US) 71 72 72

K Eriksson (Swe) 68 75 72

C Strange (US) 71 72 72

P Mickelson (US) 72 71 72

M Jonzon (Swe) 69 73 73

T Hamilton (US) 71 70 74

C Rocca (It) 71 70 74

216

J Payne 72 71 73

R Todd (Can) 74 69 73

B Ogle (Aus) 70 73 73

P Jacobsen (US) 72 70 74

B Mayfair (US) 70 72 74

D A Russell 70 72 74

C Suneson (Sp) 73 69 74

E Romero (Arg) 70 71 75

M Calcavecchia (US) 72 68 76

217

R Goosen (SA) 72 71 74

C Stadler (US) 71 71 75

219

H Clark 72 71 76

220

A Langenaeken (Bel) 72 71 77

D Hospital (Sp) 75 68 77

Complete second-round scores: 134 P McGinley 69 65; T Lehman (US) 67 67. 135 J Nicklaus (US) 69 66; P Hedblom (Swe) 70 65; E Els (SA) 68 67. 136 V Singh (Fiji) 69 67; C Pavin (US) 70 66; N Faldo 68 68; M McCumber (US) 67 69; P Harrington 68 68; M O'Meara (US) 67 69; L Roberts (US) 67 69. 137 M Brooks (US) 67 70; F Couples (US) 67 70; P Broadhurst 65 72. 138 S Maruyama (Japan) 68 70; D Clarke 70 68; C Mason 68 70; D Gilford 71 67; M James 70 68; H Tanaka (Japan) 67 71. 139 J Furyk (US) 68 71; P Mitchell 71 68; R Mediate (US) 69 70; B Hughes (Aus) 70 69; J Maggert (US) 69 70; G Norman (Aus) 71 68; M Welch 71 68. 140 S Simpson (US) 71 69; M Calcavecchia (US) 72 68; M McNulty (Zim) 69 71; A Cejka (Ger) 73 67; S Lyle 71 69; B Faxon 67 73. 141 E Romero (Arg) 70 71; C Rocca (It) 71 70; *T Woods (US) 75 66; B Crenshaw (US) 73 68; N Price (Zim) 68 73; T Hamilton (US) 71 70; J Parnevik (Swe) 72 69; G Turner (NZ) 72 69; S Stricker (US) 71 70. 142 R Boxall 72 70; M Jonzon (Swe) 69 73; F Nobilo (NZ) 70 72; C Stadler (US) 71 71; C Suneson (Sp) 73 69; D A Russell 70 72; R Allenby (Aus) 74 68; B Mayfair (US) 70 72; P Jacobsen (US) 72 70; D Frost (SA) 70 72; J Haas (US) 70 72; J Sluman (US) 72 70; R Chapman 72 70; E Darcy 73 69. 143 D Duval (US) 76 67; B Ogle (Aus) 70 73; B Barnes 73 70; J Daly (US) 70 73; S Ames (Trin) 71 72; P Mickelson (US) 72 71; C Strange (US) 71 72; R Goosen (SA) 72 71; R Todd (Can) 74 69; G Law 74 69; D Hospital (Sp) 75 68; K Eriksson (Swe) 68 75; A Langenaeken (Bel) 72 71; P Stewart (US) 70 73; T Tolles (US) 73 70; B Charles (NZ) 71 72; T Kite (US) 77 66; D A Weibring (US) 71 72; H Clark 72 71; J Payne 72 71. Disqualified: M Campbell (NZ); D Smyth. Withdrew: B Langer (Ger).

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