SOUTHPORT, England — Friday is the cruelest day in major championship golf. Tonight half the field earned a passport to the weekend and a shot at winning the British Open. Everyone else will be handing over their passport as they check in for the flight home.The low 70 players and ties will play the weekend at Royal Birkdale. That puts 83 players inside the cut line at 9-over-par.
Among those breathing a sigh of relief is Ernie Els, who made bogey on his last hole earlier today to fall to 9-over. The easy-going South African slammed his putter angrily into his bag as he walked off the green, then slammed the door of the scorer’s hut after signing for a round of 69. Also surviving at that 9-over mark are Davis Love III and England’s hope, Lee Westwood.
Phil Mickelson secured his place for the weekend with a second-round 69 that left him at 7-over. Masters champion Trevor Immelman and Colin Montgomerie are also assured to a weekend tee time at 8-over.
For others there will be no reprieve. Stewart Cink and Tom Watson (both 10-over) are finished. Joining them on the boulevard of missed birdie putts are Vijay Singh, Geoff Ogilvy, Mark O’Meara and Charles Howell III, all at 11-over. Former U.S. Open winner Angel Cabrera and Rory Sabbatini missed by a mile at 14-over.
Also missing the weekend action is former champion Paul Lawrie, Miguel Angel Jiminez, Aaron Baddeley, and a handful of young American prospects: Brandt Snedeker, Hunter Mahan, and J.B. Holmes.
In a category all of his own, dead last in the field, is John Daly. The former champion-turned-train wreck finished 29-over par after rounds of 80-89. He didn’t make a single birdie all week. And there isn’t even a Hooters in Birkdale for him to spend the weekend in.