x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Marino and Watson head field at Turnberry

Tom Watson and Steve Marino lead on the second day at the British Open, but Tiger Woods is struggling to make the cut.

Steve Marino of USA prepares to hit a shot during round two of the Open Championship on the Ailsa course at Turnberry..
Steve Marino of USA prepares to hit a shot during round two of the Open Championship on the Ailsa course at Turnberry..

Turnberry turned from a pussycat into a beast today, but while Tiger Woods was becoming one of its victims the incredible Tom Watson was still going merrily along. While Woods faced the likely prospect of missing only his second halfway cut in 49 majors as a professional - he was down on seven over par with five to play - the 59-year-old Watson sank late birdie putts of 50 and 60 feet to join fellow American Steve Marino in the clubhouse lead on five under. The five-time champion Watson, back on the course where he won in 1977, added a level-par 70 in the wind and rain to add to his opening 65. The 50-footer came on the 16th, but the cheer which greeted it was nothing compared to the roar which came on the final green. Watson is playing his 32nd Open. Marino is playing his first, but that did not stop Ben Curtis winning at Sandwich six years ago. The 29-year-old is on his first-ever trip to Britain and a week ago he was not even in the field. He has never won a US Tour title, but was in a play-off in May, stands 77th in the world and is a star in the making according to the 1989 winner Mark Calcavecchia, who lies just a stroke behind. "He really doesn't have any weaknesses that I've seen," said 49-year-old Calcavecchia, like Watson trying to become the oldest major winner in history. "He's a great kid and got a ton of talent. He's going to win soon and it may even be this week." Just getting to Scotland was an adventure for Marino, whose 20-foot eagle putt on the long 17th helped him to a two-under 68 - as, of course, did holing a 116-yard wedge at the third and sinking a bunker shot three holes later. Originally third reserve, he was playing in Illinois last week when he moved up two spots, but did not have his passport with him and so asked his father - a missile defence engineer - to fly from Virginia to Florida to pick it up and send it to him. Then, just before crossing the Atlantic, he was told that Japan's Shingo Katayama had pulled out with a back injury and he would be playing his first Open. "They have links courses in the States, but it's not like it is over here," said Marino, whose early pro career includes a 13-under-par 59 in a mini-tour event in Arizona. "I'm just having a blast. It's awesome. I love the challenge that it presents. You have to drive it straight and, most importantly, you have to stay patient and stay positive. "Once you start getting down on yourself and thinking negatively it will go bad real quick." Even if you are the world No 1, it seemed. Woods resumed on one over, birdied the long seventh after a superb pitch, but then as rain returned and the wind strengthened he followed bogeys on the next two with a lost ball double bogey at the 456-yard 10th. When he dropped another shot at the 12th and then doubled again on the next Woods was left needed a sparkling finish to survive. Padraig Harrington, after early exits from his last five Tour events, was facing another when he stood on the same mark with five to play, but the Dubliner parred the next three, birdied the 17th and made his four on the last. Although he had to wait to discover his fate, it was looking almost certain that he would be through to the closing 36 holes. The first-round leader Miguel Angel Jimenez could add only a 73 to his 64, but England's Ross Fisher, whose wife could go into labour at any time, improved to the same three-under total with a 68. In the clubhouse alongside them were twice US Open champion Retief Goosen and Japan's Kenichi Kuboya. Lee Westwood, playing with Woods, was still in the hunt at one under, part of a group which also included Sergio Garcia and German Martin Kaymer, winner of the last two European Tour events. Already out along with Poulter, though, were Greg Norman, third last year and winner on the course in 1986, Nick Faldo and Sandy Lyle. For more than one reason not a week the Scot will look back on fondly. Unlike 16-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero, who as well as the thrill of watching Watson and Garcia in action guaranteed himself the silver medal as leading amateur. Only two were in the 156-strong field and while German Stephan Gross, the European champion, could do no better than nine over British champion Manassero shot a superb 70 to be one over and safely through. * PA Sport

* PA Sport