Louis Oosthuizen’s early finish dodges wind to hold onto lead
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — As Rory McIlroy arrived at the 11th tee box at the Old Course, St. Andrews Bay visible over the heather, he was nearly five hours into his round, and the group ahead was still standing there, waiting. Up on the green, the pin bent over, flexed like a bow without the arrow, the flag stiff as plywood. Another perplexing shot sat ahead, and McIlroy’s mood was right there with the field, which collectively slumped its shoulders and threw its hands to the sky.
“I was starting to get very frustrated,” McIlroy said.
Fire a bogey-free 63 one day, follow it up with a birdie-free 80 the next, and pulling out every last curly lock of hair seems a reasonable response.
The British Open became a horrendous multicar pileup Friday afternoon, one well worthy of rubberneck- ing should calamity be your thing. In an excruciating second round, one that was halted for 65 minutes because 40 mph winds wouldn’t allow balls to sit still on the greens, fourfoot putts became adventures, hats were ripped off heads, and the only survivors were the early commuters who missed the wreck altogether.
The leader boards, unchanged all afternoon, showed South African Louis Oosthuizen — a competent golfer who has been all but incompetent in major championships — holding a commanding advantage without a true command performance. His 5-under-par 67, which began in the relative still at 6:41 a.m., not only
got him to 12-under 132 for the tournament, but it allowed him to head for cover in St. Andrews’ ancient buildings, cuddling up with the comfort of a five-shot lead.
“It’s probably the position everyone wants to be in,” Oosthuizen said.
Rub it in. Oosthuizen’s advantage is over Mark Calcavecchia, the 50-year-old jokester who won this event in 1989 — and was in the only group that played before Oosthuizen, heading out at 6:30 a.m.
The stats were stark. Of the first 51 players to begin play, nearly half — 24 — broke par. Englishmen Paul Casey (69) and Lee Westwood (71) were among them, and both stand at 6-under 138. At 9:31 a.m., Martin Kaymer of Sweden teed off, and managed a 1-under 71. After that, 75 players took to the Old Course and completed their rounds before play was called due to darkness at 9:45 p.m. None of them managed a sub-par round.
“It was certainly one of the tougher days I’ve ever played,” said Tiger Woods, who said his 73 — which left him at 4-under 140 for the tournament — was “absolutely” one of his best rounds of the year, given the circumstances.
In a way, the entire situation caught the field off guard. After teeing off at 1:31 p.m. and opening with three straight pars, McIlroy had just blistered a drive to the middle of the fourth fairway. As he and his playing partners, Lucas Glover and Tim Clark, sized up their approach shots, a rules official approached. Shortly thereafter, at 2:40 p.m., a horn blew three times, and the players headed for cover, the first wind delay in the British Open since 1998. The move was made particularly because of the 11th green, which is exposed to the wind, where golf balls would not sit still.
When play started Friday, the 21-year-old from Northern Ireland was supremely confident, and why not? He had played nine competitive rounds on the Old Course, and never failed to break 70. Now, after six bogeys and one double, he can still honestly say he has never shot in the 70s around here. None of the 22 players who posted 63 in a major championship previously had ever followed with such a miserable score.
“It’s just very, very difficult out there,” McIlroy said. “I think all the guys are finding it tough this afternoon.”
That included some of the folks who went low Thursday. John Daly and Andrew Coltart both opened with 66s but followed with 76 and 77, respectively. Lucas Glover went from 67 to 76, Paul Lawrie from 69 to 82. Players addressed their ball in the fairway, stepped away, considered another club, addressed the ball again, stepped back — and shrugged.
“That was one of the toughest days out on the golf course I can ever remember,” Lawrie said.
“It was ridiculous,” said Sean O’Hair, who shot 72.
“You were just trying to hang on,” former Masters champ Trevor Immelman said.
‘That was one of the toughest days out on the golf course I can ever remember.’ paul lawrie, on the gusty conditions at St. Andrews
South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen shot a 5-under-par 67 to move into a five-shot lead during the second round of the British Open at St. Andrews, Scotland, on Friday. ‘It’s probably the position everyone wants to be in,’ he said.