Jul
15
2011
Closing Time: Wide-Open Open
By Stephanie Wei under British Open

Aw, the kids! Rory and Rickie are playing together again tomorrow!

Only seven strokes separate the leaders and the guys who made the cut on the number. Which is absolutely insane and should result in a compelling weekend! The tournament is up for grabs, especially with the bad weather coming in tomorrow. Depending on the conditions, I still think the winning score will be around level par. Hey, we’re getting the Open that we didn’t get at Congressional last month! Here are a few snippets from my last few posts on the live-blog at WSJ:

*HOLY CHOKE JOB. Sean O’Hair doubled the last hole to miss the cut. Ouch. I was pulling for the guy after his rally. Plus, he’s had a rough year and can’t catch a break.

Random, interesting tidbit courtesy of Steve Elling’s Twitter feed: Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Charl Schwartzel, Bo Van Pelt, Y.E. Yang, Ryan Palmer, Steve Stricker, Sergio Garcia, Gary Woodland, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Jeff Overton, Bill Haas, Edoardo Molinari have made the cut in all three majors this year.

Despite his disappointing finish, Luke Donald stopped to talk with the press.

“I believe in my ability, but for whatever reason it’s just not happened for the last two majors. … I feel like I’ve tried everything. I’ve played in countless majors and come close a couple of times but now how I’ve got to figure out a way to contend a bit more.

“I probably got a little bit on the wrong side of the draw, but some other guys have dealt with it better than I have.”

That’s true. Conditions slightly favored those who played yesterday afternoon/this morning, but Thomas Bjorn and Miguel Angel Jimenez, who are both T-3, handled their short straws pretty well.

Donald forgot to bring his credentials to the course yesterday morning and security wouldn’t let him through the gates. Yep, the world’s top-ranked player had to drive home and pick ‘em up.

It was just one of those weeks.

Beautiful shot!

Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy was in good spirits speaking to the press after his round.

“It would have been nicer to be a couple [strokes] better, but I’ll take that going into the weekend. I’m very happy with my position and within striking distance of the leaders,” he said. “As I said yesterday, it’s just a matter of not hitting too many loose shots and keeping it around par, because with the weather coming in tomorrow, something around that score is going to be very close.

“There’s only seven shots separating this field. It’s very open … it’s the most open Open I’ve seen in a long time. I think it’ll be exciting to be a part of and it’ll be exciting to watch over the next two days.”

Draining that putt for par on the last hole gave him an extra bounce to his step.

“It was huge,” McIlroy said, referring to his par save on 18. “I put myself under a lot of pressure to hole that putt. I thought it was going to be a big putt for me and makes me feel pretty good headed into the weekend.”

McIlroy hopes he doesn’t get in a situation where he’s paired with co-leader and fellow Ulsterman Darren Clarke on Sunday.

“I’d know what to say to him to put him off, I think,” said Rory, laughing. “No, I really don’t mind. I don’t mind. To be honest, yeah, I’d probably rather play with someone that I don’t know too well just so I can keep my mind on the task at hand. But we’ll see what happens.”

Clarke is four-under and shares the lead with Lucas Glover. Yes, an American is atop the leaderboard! In fact, five Americans are on the first page. Two most surprising things from today: 1) Phil shooting 1-under, T14; 2) Graeme McDowell blowing up with a 77 to miss the cut.

Be back tomorrow. Don’t forget your rain gear. The monsoon is supposed to hit at 9 in the morning, local time.

(AP Photo/Jon Super)