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Tom Watson tied for British Open lead while Tiger Woods misses cut

TURNBERRY, Scotland — In a span of an hour, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods walked off the 18th green at Turnberry headed in opposite directions.

The oldest player at the British Open was leading.

The best player was leaving.

"It's as if the spirits are on my side," said Watson, 59, who made history Friday as the oldest player to lead a major.

"Kept making mistake after mistake," said Woods, the No. 1 player in the world.

Watson started out poorly but made two late birdie putts nearly as long as his odds of winning the claret jug. The second, a 45-footer, gave him par 70 and a tie for the lead with Steve Marino (68) at 5-under 135.

Woods, meanwhile, dropped seven shots during a six-hole stretch. Not even two late birdies, which gave Woods 4-over 74, kept him from missing his second cut at a major (2006 U.S. Open, shortly after the death of his father).

"It was just problem after problem," he said. "I kept compounding my problems out there."

Forget about Woods' pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' 18 majors. Now it's about Watson going after Harry Vardon and his six British Opens.

One year after 53-year-old Greg Norman led after three rounds, Watson seeks to became the oldest major champ. Julius Boros was 48 when he won the 1968 PGA.

Watson won the first of his five Opens at Carnoustie in 1975, five months before Woods was born. His second came at Turnberry in 1977.

"I guess the memories are with me, all the wonderful memories I've had playing links golf," Watson said. "It's been since 1975 — 34 years — I've played links golf. It's a fabric of my life."

One shot behind him and Marino was Mark Calcavecchia (69), the former University of Florida standout who won 20 years ago at Royal Troon. Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen (70) twice saved par from 35 feet to be two behind with a group that includes three-time major winner Vijay Singh (70) and first-round leader Miguel Jimenez (73).

Watson, who had hip surgery only nine months ago, bogeyed No. 2 and Nos. 4-7.

"Lady Turnberry took off her gloves, and she had some teeth," Watson said. "I knew the outgoing nine was going to be tough. But I never gave up hope because I knew that the incoming nine was going to play a little bit easier."

That knowledge and some words from playing partner Sergio Garcia helped him turn it around.

"That was nice of Sergio to give me a little pep talk there," Watson said, chuckling as he repeated the Spaniard's words. " 'Come on, old man.' He was making a joke of it, but I said, 'Well, I feel like an old man.' "

Watson holed a 25-foot birdie at No. 9. Later came a 75-foot birdie from the back of the 16th green, after which he raised his arms and kissed the ball. After the 45-footer at No. 18, Watson kicked his right leg — "That was my Scottish jig," he said — and offered an abbreviated bow.

Friday was quite a change from the first round, when 50 players broke par on a tame Turnberry. Amid the clouds, wind and hour-long rain, only seven did so.

Woods believed he might be among them. But after birdie at No. 7 got him to 1-under for the tournament, it all went wrong.

He bogeyed Nos. 8 and 9 then lost a tee shot in the high grass at No. 10, leading to double bogey. He parred No. 11 but bogeyed No. 12 and found more trouble at No. 13. Woods left himself short of the green and tried to chip up. Instead, the ball rolled back toward him, leading to another double bogey that left him at 7-over.

"That is surprising," Watson said of Woods. "It seems like he's been playing awfully well this year. Links golf, I've played it when I'm not playing very well, and it's a struggle."

The top 70 plus ties advance, and at 5-over 145, Woods was one over the cut line.

"Obviously, it's disappointing," Woods said. "I was playing well coming in, and (Friday), unfortunately, I didn't play certain holes well."

Now Woods faces the possibility of not winning a major for the first time since 2004 and just the fourth time since turning pro in late 1996. He tied for sixth at the Masters and the U.S. Open. His last chance comes at next month's PGA.

"I just haven't put together all four rounds," he said. "And you have to play clean in order to win a major championship. I haven't done that."

Leaderboard

TO

Player 1 2 PAR

Steve Marino6768 -5

Tom Watson6570-5

M. Calcavecchia6769-4

Notables

Miguel Jimenez6473-3

Angel Cabrera6970-1

Sergio Garcia7069-1

John Daly6872E

missed the cut

Tiger Woods7174+5

Lucas Glover7277+9

Greg Norman7775+12

British Open: Round 3

TV: 7 a.m., TNT; 9 a.m., Ch. 28

Weather: Chance of rain 70 percent, high 58. Winds northwest at 10-20 mph. Rainfall about a quarter of an inch.

Tom Watson tied for British Open lead while Tiger Woods misses cut 07/17/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 17, 2009 10:57pm]

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