Championship so long ago he could
still smoke his pipe in the clubhouse.
In the blustery early weather, the
Great Dane, Thomas Björn, who fin-
ished fourth this time around, gave every
writer in Kent a reason to recycle all that Hamlet stu;.
He partially exorcised 2003, when he took three to get
out of a bunker on the 16th and punted the claret jug to
Ben Curtis who, all rumors to the contrary, is not the last
American to win a major championship. When the wind
laid down in the afternoon, Björn was joined by young
Tom Lewis, an amateur who does nothing but play golf
and who will turn pro before the snow flies in Gstaad,
comes from the same town as Nick Faldo and is named
for the only five-time Open winner in the field, Old Tom
Watson, his playing partner.
While there was no question about the better half of the
draw Thursday, the second day was marked by generally
moderate winds, a sunscreen advisory for creamy English
complexions and the inability of anyone to pull away from
the pack. The highlight of the day was Old Tom’s one-bounce hole-in-one on the sixth that a;orded the extraordinary 61-year-old the opportunity to take another bow in
the British, two years removed from his near miracle at
Turnberry. By evening the lead had dropped a shot to four
under, held jointly by Clarke and Lucas Glover, who was
trying to become the first bearded champion at this venue
since Hengist and Horsa pillaged Pegwell Bay in 449.
The English duo of Luke Donald and Lee Westwood both
missed the cut allowing the top two spots in the World
Ranking to remain a completely major-free zone.
Saturday, the Open began.
In weather so foul even Vince Lombardi would have
broken out his rainsuit, the early tee times took the brunt
of the sideways rain and the howling winds. After the
leaders had staggered through a mere handful of holes,
the weather let up on the accelerator. “The guys who
played this morning and midday, they would feel hard
done by,” said Björn. “The rain went away for us after five
or six holes. I wouldn’t say it ever became easy, but it was
more pleasant to be out there. So they’ll feel hard done by,
but that’s the Open Championship for you.”
The day’s best round belonged to Rickie Fowler who,
playing for the third straight time with the other media
pet, the U.S. Open champ and links golf denier McIlroy,
slogged through 12 holes in the worst of it, then took ad-
vantage of the course when the conditions improved with
birdies on the 13th, 15th and 16th for a two-under 68. That
was equaled later by Johnson who awakened Wednesday
morning in his digs in Ickham with a full-blown case of
Ickham that caused his glands to swell as if he had actu-
ally been staying in Crumpets-Under-Jaw. A soupçon of
penicillin got him feeling better day-by-day. Björn and
Fowler were two behind Johnson, three back of Clarke,
with Glover and Miguel Angel Jiménez the only other golf-
ers in red figures. They were trailed by a six-pack at even
and a dastardly forecast.