Capri­Cious Con­di­tions

Louis Oosthuizen’s early fin­ish dodges wind to hold onto lead

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Barry Svr­luga

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

Alastair Grant as­so­Ci­ateD pRess

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.

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