Well, my little divots… I've enjoyed these eight — count 'em, eight! — non-stop hours slaving over a hot blog for you. We might witness an historic weekend, if Tom Watson does the impossible. I can't wait to watch.
Our live-blog is going dark now, but stay tuned to Golf.com for more Open Championship coverage. And me? I'm in the zone, so I'm gonna switch channels and live-blog Oprah, Judge Judy and The Girls Next Door. I can't be stopped. Only contained.
Tune in tomorrow morning to catch Saturday's action. We'll see you then.
A reader named Phil says what everyone is thinking: Gimme more Goggin. This is supposed to be coverage of the tournament. Goggin is still on the course under par and Barrett has posted anything about player other than Tiger for the last hour. Phil, a phair point. What can I say? America has Goggin Fever, and I've failed to realize that. We'll make it right tomorrow. Especially since there will be no Tiger to cover.
And Debbie had another gem I had to share, to the Tiger teasers: Get it through your thick skulls — Tiger Woods is ALWAYS the story! I know it pains you, but millions of us have the power of the pocketbook. And we want to know what's going on with Tiger. My poor, sweet baby. I wish I could cuddle him right now. I agree. (Umm, except for the cuddling thing. I'm not going there…)
The Down With Tiger brigade is loving life. Debbie has a message for you, Eldrick Hatahs: Congratulations Tiger haters — you live to bully another day! Now, where are those fat kids with low self esteem you can pick on? 2:41PM
Oh, speaking of Monty, he and Sandy Lyle are currently leg-wrestling in the press tent. (This is just getting weird…)
More from ear-to-the-ground Paul Mahoney (twitter.com/paulmahoneygolf): Reporter to Tom Watson: "Last year, we had Norman, age, 53, leading. Now we have…" Watson interrupts: "Another old fart!"Watson's opening address to standing-room only press conference: "Lady Turnberry took off her gloves today and she had some teeth." Sounds like a horrific blind date. 2:32PM
Joining Tiger at 5-over, and it's-all-over-but-the-shouting likely to be spending the weekend in a pub: Monty, Adam Scott, Mike Weir and Ben Curtis, who shot 80 today. Also going home is Anthony Kim, at plus-6.
The news for Tiger? Bad. Very bad. As the TNT fellas clearly explain (good on ya, boys), there are currently nine players on the course who are inside the cutline, with scores ranging from plus-1 to plus-4. Tiger would need seven of those nine players to drop to 5-over in order for the cutline to move and for TW to make the weekend. Possible? Yes. But unrealistic. That's a lot of giftwrapped golf shots. Some fuzzy math would have to go down. He has a better shot at nabbing an NFL wildcard spot than of making the cut.
Ishikawa makes bogey on 18, to drop to plus-six. He'll miss the cut. Woods taps in for his par, not knowing if he'll play this weekend. "I'm sure he'll assume the worst, thinking that that's it," Finchie says. True that.
Looking at today's developements, I don't know which is more shocking: that Watson is co-leading, or that Woods had reached even-par before finishing at plus-5.
Using a wedge, Tiger chips over much of the break. His ball is tracking… tracking… tracking… and it stops at about a foot. He'll tap in for par to stay at plus-five.
But will he stay or will he go?
The pin on 18 is cut left. To hunt or not to hunt? That is the question. Tiger makes a good safe shot toward the center of the green, but his ball takes a big hop and trundles off the back. He'll have the option of putting or chipping — call it 40 feet — but chances are slim for a birdie.
Barring an incredible hole-out, he'll have to hope the cutline moves to plus-five.
Tiger has 199 yards to the hole from the right rough on 18.
Damn you, Baker-Finch! Tiger hits a long iron, but he shoves it to his right, giving it some extreme leaning-to-the-left body language. His ball trickles into the right rough, but we know not of his lie.
He's playing conservative/agressive. Tiger must know that a par might get him into the weekend, but that a bogey will definitely send him packing. He seems to playing for par or birdi, taking bogey out of it.
Bizarro Tiger stalks toward the 18th tee. What will he pull? Finchie says 3-iron. I think he has to be bold and hit a longer club, since birdie is a must. I call 3-wood.
From Golf.com contributer Paul Mahoney (check him out at twitter.com/paulmahoneygolf).
The secret to Calcavecchia's success, says the '89 Open Champ? "Four pints a night. Seems a nice round number."
I'll drink to that.
On 17 green, Tiger's eagle chip halts at 2 feet — he'll make that for his second straight birdie, to reach plus-5 for the Open, 1 shot outside the current cutline.
One hole to play, one birdie needed (probably).
From 287 yards out, Tiger pulled 5-wood and hit a solid shot to the back of the 17th green, his ball rolling onto the back collar. He'll have a shot at eagle and should be able to get up-and-down for birdie.
The cut is currently at plus-4, and there's a chance it may move to plus-5. At the very least, Woods must birdie 17 and make no worse than par on 18. If he birdies both 17 and 18, he's in.
"That was a scooper," Finchie says after Tiger, pulling 3-wood, hits a pop-up off the tee. Center cut in the 17th fairway, but well back. Tiger slumps his head and shoulders. (His body language never lies.) If Woods is going to reach the par-5 in two, in order to make birdie or eagle and give himself a shot to make the cut, he'll likely need to hit a perfect 3-wood to get there. And he hasn't hit a perfect shot all day.
One birdie down, two to go. Tiger makes his birdie on no. 16. Two holes to play. He's at 6-over, 2 strokes outside of the plus-4 cutline. Well, Tiger's never dull. You have to give him that. You have to think it'll come down to the 18th green.
The par-5 17th is Turnberry's easiest hole this week. But can Tiger hit the fairway?
A reader asked about Tiger's missed cuts in majors. The only one he's missed as a professional was at the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
Woods' approach on 16, from 132 yards, comes to rest about 18 feet from the cup. He'll have a look at birdie.
Three straight birdies must begin with one good swing, and Tiger has found the center of the fairway on no. 16.
Watson to Jim Huber, in his post-round interview, the Claret Jug literally within reach to his right: "Things are going my way, some good things are happening… The biggest putt of the day was the 25-footer I made on 9, and that turned me around. Lady Turnberry had her gloves off, but I put in a good counter-punch [smiles]. [At 18, when I made the long putt for birdie] I think the spirits were on my side. I don't have too many days left to play this championship, but I wouldn't be here unless I thought I could [win]."
Phew! What a round. What a day.
The math is very simple for Tiger, who just two-putted for his par on 15. He's at 7-over with three to play and he's 3 shots outside the cutline. He needs to play the last 3 holes in 3 under to avoid missing his second cut in a major as a professional.
Woods gives himself a chance, but not a great chance, on the par-3 15th; he'll have about 30 feet for birdie. This swoosh-wearing imposter is currently tied for 107th.
From the sublime to the ridiculous, Tiger Woods is 6-over on his round today. He has to make a bunch of birdies coming in, and he only has four holes left.
Tomorrow, he plays in the final group with Steve Marino.
I repeat: Tom Watson is the co-leader midway through the 2009 British Open.
OK, I'll settle down now.
Sorry for the delay. I just did a coffee spit-take all over my laptop, because Old Tom Watson rolled in his birdie putt on 18 (50 feet? 60 feet? a million feet?) to finish at 5-under. That did not just happen!
I am speechless. To quote David Feherty: "My flabber is completely gasted."
On 18, Watson takes a 7-iron, from 204 yards, and finds the middle right of the green. He'll have 40-50 feet for birdie. Not an automatic par, but Old Tom's lag putting has been stellar today. It's like his ball and the cup are magnetically attracted. He should 2-putt for par. Let's just hope he doesn't leave himself an artificial-knee-knocking 5-footer.
Oh. My. Lawd. Tiger just missed a 6-footer for bogey on no. 13. Double-bogey. He's at 7-over, and is now 3 shots outside the projected cutline (of plus-4).
Who is this swooshed man? I don't recognize him. I stand by what I said earlier: He doesn't look afraid. His head is down, shoulders slumped, face sagging. He looks depressed. Helpless. He looks utterly and completely lost.
OK, you know all the stuff about Tiger's final charge today to make the cut? Umm, nevermind. He just fluffed a chip — his third shot — on no. 13 that came back to his ankles. He now has to get up-and-down to save bogey.
Old Tom Update: His drive on no. 18 trickled into the first cut, staying clear of the fescue. No worries there. With one more solid swing, he'll have a par or better to finish a strong round.
Finchie says that Tiger looks scared. Like he has fear in his eye. All due respect to IBF, I don't see it. He looks frustrated and lost, but afraid? No way.
Utterly shameless name-drop: Last year, I spent some time with Steve Williams for a piece on Steve and his relationship with Tiger. He said that Woods is the only player he's ever caddied for — and SW has looped for Floyd and Norman, among many others — who can make swing adjustments mid-round and fix a problem on the fly. So Tiger haters, don't be surprised to see Woods pull it together over these final holes and make the cut.
Watson struck a lovely tee shot on the par-3 17th, and had a nice look at birdie — from about 20 feet. He missed the putt but left himself a stress-free par tap-in, with one hole to play. He remains 1 off the lead.
Tiger finds the fairway on no. 13, pulling an iron. That swing looked balanced and confident.
Brian writes, "The king is dead. Long live the king."
You may be right, Brian — at least this year. Tiger just missed a lengthy par putt on 12, to fall to plus-5 for the Open. The current cutline is plus-3, and it may move up to plus-4, with the conditions getting tougher (more wind, harder greens).
So Tiger must shoot red numbers for his final six holes to have a shot at making the cut. He needs at least one birdie, and no bogeys.
Pardon the delay, all. Some technical difficulties. (Not as bad as Tiger's, but still…)
Our board has a serious case of Watson fever.
Scott writes: Just like I remember the Tom of old…never give up…be patient and hang in there!! Just like he's doing today!! A bad 6 hole stretch, then comes back with a birdie on 9 and a solid par on 10. That's the way I remember Tom from when I was watching he and Jack battling!! Go Tom!!! My favorite golfer!!!! And Dan says it all: OK I don't care who you are… How can you not be rooting for Tom Watson right now… unbelievable. 12:32PM
Wow. Tiger clubs down from a fairway wood to a long iron, and he still finds a fairway moon crater off the tee on 12. How's that song go? "Tida said there'd be days like this, there'd be days like, Tida said…"
Talk to me. What's the bigger story: Norman's run last year, or Watson partying like it's 1977? Maybe it's the Pike Place blend talking, but I think Old Tom is leaving the Shark in his wake, so far.
You. Must. Be. Kidding. Either I'm hallucinating, or Tom Watson just dropped a 60-foot, right-to-left birdie putt on 16, to move within 1 stroke of the lead. He's at 4-under.
Tom, I'm sorry I doubted you.
Well, we're past the midway point of this 7-hour, non-stop British Open Blogathon. I'm taking a quick break to adjust my caffeine-and-guarana IV drip. Be right back.
Please blog amongst yourselves… 12:15PM
Woods make his double-bogey on 10.
What a turn of events. In the last hour, we've seen Watson turn a brutal round around, and we've seen Woods start swinging like a 13-handicap, nearly imploding on 10.
Tiger hit a nifty, bitey little pitch to about 5 feet on 10. He'll have that for a double-bogey, which would drop him to 4-over for the event and put him 1 shot outside the projected cut-line (plus-3).
Tiger's woes are contagious — his playing partner Ishikawa had to take an unplayable, after finding some hairy rough on 10.
It's official, say the TV talking heads: Tiger's 5 minutes are up, no tee ball found, and Tiger's now hitting his fourth shot from the fairway. From 221 yards out, he leaves it about 15 yards short of the green. He's looking at a double bogey, or worse?
The seach — like Hank Haney's place with Team Tiger, perhaps – is over. Woods is walking over to his provisional shot.
They found a ball! But it wasn't Tiger's. He has 5 minutes to find his tee shot. Tick-tock, tick-tock…
A developing situation. Woods hit a provisional off the tee on 10. "Something's gone haywire" with Tiger's swing this week, Azinger says. There's currently a massive, hard-target search of every outhouse, hen house and dog house near the 10th hole for Tiger's tee ball. So far, Tiger's tee ball is nowhere to be found.
Watson cozies a lengthy birdie putt to about an inch on 14, for another par, to stay at 3-under for the Open.
I'm not seeing a lot of blog love for Old Tom. C'mon, my cynical posters. You have to admit–it's phenominal the way he's bounced back today. He's 2 off the lead!
As Watson hit his approach on 14, said Curtis Strange admiringly: "He's a tough little booger."
Would someone please taser this guy?
Tiger's fat-like-me tee shot cost him on the par-4 9th. If he makes his 4-footer for bogey, he'll have gone birdie-bogey-bogey for the last 3 holes.
Master of overstatement Curtis Strange, as we watch Watson split the fairway on 14: "His driving has improved 300 percent since his prime." Yesterday, Strange said Kim was the player to watch "for the next 20 to 25 years." Because there are no other good young stars in the game, right Curtis?
Peter Alliss, where are you?
From Golf.com czar Charlie Hanger, who's keeping an eye on the commercials:
That RBS ad just now, showing all the glorious images of the Open and links golf, included a slow, loving pan up … a ball washer? Ah, the majestic ball washers of
"That likely could be the worst tee shot that Tiger's ever hit," suggests Azinger, never one to mince words. Tiger takes 5-wood again, this time from the rough, and makes better contact.
Tiger pulls 5-wood on no. 9 tee and makes a dreadful swing: Fat and right, finding some nasty rough, it appears. His worst lash of the day. Woods angrily slams his club into the tee ground, then slams it again into his golf bag.
OK, back to golf. Calc taps in on 18 for his second-round 69. He's 4-under, and 1 off the lead.
Meanwhile, Tiger mis-reads his par putt and makes bogey. He's back at 1-over.
Before we get back to the action, we have some tension a-brewin' on the boards. SI's Dick Friedman said that attempting to win a major may take priority over being at your child's birth. (See below.) "You're off your rocker," one poster decried. Another said that clearly Mr. Friedman is not a dad. Yet another jibed: "Dick is a good first name for Friedman." (Good one.)
Dick Friedman responds: Please tell the commenters, such as Father UR NOT, that Father I AM: As of next Tuesday, I’ll have been a dad for 25-and-a-half years. And while it was wonderful to be present at my daughter’s birth, I consider what I did in the years afterward to have had much more impact.
Correct me if I'm wrong, fans, but I haven't seen Tiger pull driver once today. (He just ripped what appeared to be a 3- or 5-wood on 8, finding the rough.) Then again, I've been up since 5:57AM, and my body chemistry is 87 percent caffeine, so my judgment is questionable.
Tiger makes his birdie putt on 7, his first red number of the day. He began the day with 67 names between his and the leader. He's now tied for 27th.
Sorry, Tiger haters, but it's gonna be a long day for you.
"As the conditions worsen, Tom Watson gets better," says Paul Azinger, as Ancient Tom rolls a 15-footer in for birdie on no. 3. He flashes his famous Huck Finn grin as he strides off the green, now only 2 off the lead — he's now at 3-under.
The birdie-less one, Tiger Woods, sticks a wedge tight on the par-5 7th. He should get to even par in a few moments, only 5 off the lead.
Sports Illustrated's Dick Friedman has this take on ready-to-bolt dad-to-be Ross Fisher: Fisher, who as I write is T4, continues the ominous trend of expectant fathers in contention for a major who are ready to decamp when the beeper goes off, signaling that their wives are going into labor. I decried this practice when Sean O’Hair was ready to leave Bethpage, and I reiterate my opposition here (assuming, that is, that there are no expected complications with the birth). I guess I think that opportunities to be Champion Golfer of the Year come along less often than chances to be Champion Father of the Year. And if Fisher wins, he will get the Claret Baby Bottle.
And here comes the British weather. "It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is NOT scoring." TNT apparently had the wrong score for Watson moments ago. He actually 2-putted for par on no. 10 to remain at 2-under, 3 off the lead.
Come on, TNT, it's called "live" golf coverage. Watson just hit a 6-iron to about 15 feet on no. 10, but they've already updated the leaderboard to show that Tom has moved it to 3-under through 10. Call it a gut instinct, but I think he's gonna roll this one in…
Calc 3-jacks on the par-3 15th. He drops a shot, and Marino is back alone atop the leaderboard.
On the par-3 fourth, Stewart Cink attempted a heroic pitch from deep beneath greenside hay — and a suhwiiiing and a miss. Whiff. Then he pitched to about 30 feet past the hole. He's looking at double bogey. TNT's Tom Weiskopf let this comment (Freudian) slip: "Let's go back to Stewart Stink, err, Cink's problems." Youch.
Old Tom finishes his front nine with a birdie on no. 9, to get back to 2-under. A smile and a rare spring in his step from the 59-year-old today. He's only 3 back….
Drawing a nice lie in the bunker, Tiger parks his third to about 4 feet on no. 5. He should make that for his par.
Jim Huber did a nice look back at the Duel in the Sun — Jack vs. Tom at Turnberry in '77 — though when he said that "the course sparkled like the sun off the Ailsa Craig," I got a cavity.
Back to the action! On no. 5, after a perfect tee shot with a 3-wood, Tiger hits a low draw into the wind but finds a front-left moon crater of the long par 4.
Earl Anthony — err, I mean Calc — nearly jars his iron approach into the par-4 14th. He has 2 feet to reach 5-under for the Open, and a share of the lead with Steve Marino. Holy Beer Gut, Batman!
Another ho-hum par for Tiger. His swing looks much better than yesterday (of course, my swing looked better than his yesterday, I'm a hacker.) And he's nearly drained a couple of long putts. I still think he's heading to the mid-60s today, and I stand by my 66 prediction.
Here's a dispatch from Friend of Golf.com Paul Mahoney, a crackerjack UK-based journalist covering the action Over There. (Please check out Paul's twitter-iffic site: twitter.com/paulmahoneygolf)Said Ian Poulter (+14): "I could have played with a set of spades and still wouldn't have found the middle of the club." Ross Fisher shoots 68 in Round 2 to go -3. He has a jet on standby in case his pregnant wife goes into labour. (The jet's for him; not her.) And here's Sandy Lyle again: "I don't regret anything. Monty isn't exactly squeaky clean." Over to you, Monty. Good stuff, Paul. Keep it coming!
I love Baker-Finch's honeyed Aussie accent. But…little known fact: It's fake. He's from Newark, N.J. You heard it here first.
Tiger makes another stress-free par, on no. 3. After a nice bounce on the 169-yard par-3 fourth, he has about 20 feet for birdie.
Props to a poster named (seriously) TNTedium. He writes:
"Tiger was cursing and throwing fits on the driving range. He could not hit the ball straight even with 3 wood. He is definitely not going to win this championship."
TNTedium has spoken!
Calc., the 1989 Open Champ, has birdied two of his last three holes, to get it to 4-under through 12. I love it when a guy who looks like he belongs on the PBA Tour shows these flat-bellied kids how it's done.
Watson makes his fourth straight bogey, on no. 7. Sigh.
To quote another British legend, one John Lennon. "The dream is over/What can I say? The dream is over…"
Ahh, nothing gets the boards a-hoppin' like Tiger Talk. Someone suggested the World No. 1 lacked class, to which Tom replied:
"Hope Tiger keeps the driver in the bag today. I disagree with Tiger not having 'class'. As someone who played sports competitively I understand being extremely focused on the course and always wanting to be the best at all times, and there is nothing wrong with that. Off the course the guy is extremely classy, in my opinion."
Woods makes his par on no. 2.
Meanwhile, John Daly taps in on 18. He'll play the weekend. He shot 72 today and is even-par for the Open. His pants are plus-19.
Tiger's 4-iron approach on no. 2 holds the left side of the green, but with the pin cut right, he'll have to be happy with a 2-putt par.
You know who's really enjoying the action right now? Steve Marino. He shot a 68 today, and must be kicking back in his hotel room as the sole leader and loving what he's seeing.
Watson's par putt misses, for his fourth bogey today. He's now at 2-under for the Open and has fallen off the first page of the leaderboard.
At least he's through one of the toughest stretches on the course. Maybe he'll get back onboard the par-birdie train in the coming holes.
The tale of the T-Dubs: Woods pulls a fairway wood and finds the right side of the fairway on no. 2. Watson hits a nice bunker shot on no. 6, but had an awkward lie and stance, and will have 20 feet to avoid his fourth bogey of the day.
Well, at the British, when it rains it pours. Ancient Tom knows this better than anyone. Watson's tee shot on the 233-yard par-3 6th finds one of the moon craters that they call "bunkers" across the pond. We'll see what his lie looks like, but at Turnberry, finding the sand is usually the equivalent of a one-stroke penalty.
Tiger burns the right edge of the cup on no. 1, putting from off the green. He'll make his par to stay at plus-1.
Co-leader Kuboya lost his tee shot on no. 13 and had to re-tee — stroke and distance penalty for a lost ball. He now lies three in the fairway on the par-4, so he's looking at a potential double bogey.
Let's call Watson's putt a 7-footer, but whatever we call it, he missed. Bogey. That's three bogeys today through five holes, after a blemish-free opening round yesterday.
He's got to be thinking, "I'd rather be home watching the Matlock marathon."
We talked about The Big Moment that would test Watson today? He now has five frightening feet for par on no. 5. Meanwhile, Tiger pulled iron on no. 1 and split the fairway.
The other T-Dub — Tom Watson — is just off the back of the green on the scarier-than-a-plate-of-Haggis 5th hole. Getting up and down for a par would have Ancient Tom walking on air toward the 6th tee.
Will Woods go low? Magic 8-balll says, "Signs point to yes." It's just a matter of time until Tiger adds a come-from-behind major win to his resume. I think yesterday's untidy round was an aberration — a symptom of his wanting it too much and trying too hard, as my colleague Alan Shipnuck suggested on Golf.com yesterday.
My bold prediction? Tiger has The Look all day today and shoots 66.
Co-leader Stricker loses his share of the lead with a bogey on the difficult 5th. He falls to 4-under.
T-minus 10 minutes until Tiger.
One of my favorite Watson stories:
Back in the 90s, when he was mired in a decade-long winless streak on the PGA Tour, Watson missed the cut at the AT&T at Pebble, finishing with back-to-back bogeys. He and his friend Sandy Tatum, the former USGA president, left Pebble and went to Cypress Point for a late lunch. It was about 4:30pm when Watson, who had played terribly, looked at Tatum and said, “Hey, we can still get nine holes in!” They hadn’t brought their clubs, so they borrowed some sticks from a Cypress member and played four or five holes in the misty twilight, and they had a blast.
That’s Tom Watson. After dominating golf for 15 years, he found himself in a crippling slump, and he had just missed yet another cut. But he so loves golf, he had to play an emergency round.
And thus ends my Jimmy Roberts moment for today's blog. 9:01AM
No. 4 takes a chunk out of Watson and Sergio both. Bogey and bogey. Sergio falls to even-par for the event.
Watson 2-putts for bogey on no. 4, dropping a shot and falling to 1 off the lead. A birdie-bogey-par-bogey start for the 5-time British Open winner.
Correction. Watson found the greenside bunker on no. 4, not the rough. He hit his bunker shot to about 15-20 feet from the pin, so he'll need to drop another long putt to avoid bogey.
Sergio — 1-under for the tournament — and Ancient Tom both hit weak iron shots that leak into the right rough on the par-3 fourth, short-siding themselves. The pin is cut to the right. Ouch. Depending on their respective lies, bogey may be a good score.
Old Tom — actually, he's Ancient Tom — is halfway through a "dream start," says Ian Baker-Finch. If Watson can survive the first six holes at even-par or better, Finchie adds, he'll be well on his way to a special day. So far, so good.
J.B. Holmes taps in on 18. He finishes at 2-under for the week, very much in the mix.
Meanwhile on no. 3, Old Tom lags a long birdie putt — at least 60 feet — to a few, stress-free inches. He's even on the day through 3.
Old Tom muscles a big drive on no. 1 that scoots well down the fairway, and he'll need every yard he can muster: The 489-yard third is the longest par-4 on the course.
Squint and watch Watson's swing and you'd think it was 1980. It's the same elegant, efficient, powerful action he's used for decades. What a thing of beauty. As opposed to his putting stroke, which can make you wince at times. 8:40AM God bless Peter Alliss. His mellifluous tones are gracing TNT's airwaves. So says the British broadcasting legend: "Tiger will shoot a 68 or better today, to put a little fear in the leadboard." Peter, I'll drink to that. 8:35AM After a short iron to the front of the no. 2 green, Watson 2-putts for bogey, giving back the birdie he made on no. 1. He's now in a three-way tie for the lead with Kuboya and Marino (who shot a 68 today), at 5-under. 8:29AM Old Tom is being tested early. After missing the fairway on the par-4 second, Watson pulled his drive into the hay left of the fairway and was forced to pitch out back onto the short grass. He'll have to scramble for a par and hope for no worse than bogey. 8:26AM Watson is poised to take sole possession of the lead as Kuboya is flirting with bogey or double-bogey on no. 9. He lies three off the green on the par-4 9th. 8:23AM Well, Old Tom, that's one way to avoid fretting and sweating over yip-tastic short putts–just drain 25-footers all day. And we'll be right back to the 1977 British Open after these commercial messages! 8:20AM Par? Puhlease! Watson rolls in his birdie putt from the center of the green on no. 1, lifting his putter in celebration as his ball trickles in. He joins Kuboya at the top of the leaderboard, at 6-under. Wow. 8:17AM Watson's iron approach on no. 1 finds the middle-back portion of the green. A solid start. He'll have two putts for an opening par. 8:14AM Let's watch for The Big Moment today from Old Tom. There will come a point where he'll be tested, and the demons will come — whether it's a slick downhill 4-foot putt for par or bogey, or having to summon his 59-year-old joints and muscles to power his ball out of a thick lie. How he handles The Big Moment will reveal whether or not he'll be in this through the weekend. 8:10AM
Pulling a long iron on No. 1, Old Tom takes a confident, determined lash and his ball finds fairway, center-cut. One swing down… how many to go?
By the way, Tiger fans–Woods tees off in a little over an hour. An ominous number for Tiger: 67. He's never won a British Open shooting higher than an opening-round 67 (he shot 71 yesterday). And at the start of play today, there were 67 names between Tiger and the leader.
Now on the tee… Tom Watson!
David Duval rolls in a birdie putt of 18 feet on no. 1 to get back to even-par for the week. Duval's level of play seems to be in direct proportion to his level of interest in a given event. He almost wins the U.S. Open at Bethpage, then a missed cut at the John Deere, and now back in the hunt at Turnberry.
Just 11 minutes until Watson tees off. Not that I'm excited, or anything.
Meanwhile, on no. 8, leader Kuboya stripes a drive dead-center down the fairway. He does not appear to be intimidated by the hugeness of the moment. Then again, it's only Friday.
Early estimates from the TNT guys about today's cutline: definitely over-par, perhaps as high as plus-3. Take note, Tiger. If Woods' swing is as loose today as yesterday, the World No. 1 could be enjoying the weekend action from the comfort of his Florida mansion.
Harrington, on 13, misses his par putt. He falls to plus-4 for the week. He looks more frustrated with his putter than with his work-in-progress swing.
Golf Magazine Senior Writer Cameron Morfit was up with the rooster this morning filing this report. Take it, Cameron:
"Saw Tom Lehman playing the little par-3 course with his family outside the Turnberry Hotel after his first-round 68 Thursday in the golden fading light of a perfect summer day. Today it's raining. The par-3 course will get no play Friday, unless a player who's missed the cut gets extremely drunk."
Just 1,623 seconds until Tom Watson tees off. But who's counting…?
Goosen drops a 10-footer for birdie on 16. He's now 3-under for the event and 3 off the lead.
Golf.com's Anne Szeker is on the spot with some Kenichi Kuboya trivia. On our current leader, she reports: "He's a four-time winner on the Japanese Tour, but hasn't won since 2002. He last played the British Open seven years ago at Muirfield. He finished T59th. His last PGA Tour appearance was 2004, the Sony Open. He finished T54. And now he's leading the British Open. Golf is such a fickle game." 7:32AM
Correction: Mr. 59 (as in years) Tom Watson tees off at 8:09am eastern time, 37 minutes away.
The Ponytailed One just tapped in for par on 13. Jimenez is 4-over on his day, and at 2-under for the event.
Talk to me, people! Is Watson a one-day wonder, or can he stay in this thing through the weekend? I'll bet you he did a little rain dance this morning. Tougher conditions today play to his advantage. Sure, he may balloon to a 79, but it won't be because he's thrown off by wind or rain. It will be because of age and nerves and a rusty putter. He knows how to play in sideways rain. And he knows links golf better than anyone on the planet.
How will the less experienced players handle rougher weather?
The wind has more chill and bite today, and scores reflect the conditions. Yesterday's scoring average was 71.19. So far today it's 74.21, more than 3 strokes higher.
Kuboya has dropped a shot. He now leads Watson by just 1, through 5.
The million-pound question of the tournament: Can Watson do it? Can a 59-year-old legend who has battled yips and low confidence win a major? He would be 13 years older than the oldest Open Championship winner ever, Old Tom Morris.
I find it hard to believe. Then again, I could barely believe my eyes as Norman made his run last year as a 53-year-old.
The leaderboard is-a changin'. Japan's talented Kenichi Kuboya — don't pretend that you didn't have him in your office pool — is now leading, at 7-under through 4 holes. He leads 59-year-old Tom Watson by 2. Watson tees off at 8:20am, eastern time.
Good morning, Golf.commies. Welcome to Day Two of the British Open. Play is underway at Turnberry, and I'll be with you every step of the way today, covering the live action. Seven-plus hours, I kid you not. (Don't worry, I get paid by the hour.)
Can Old Tom Watson keep playing like the Watson of old? Will the wind and weather affect scores today? Will John Daly keep it together? All will be revealed today.
Send me your comments, questions and thoughts. Let's get to it!