Tiger Woods was heading out of the British Open as 59-year-old Tom Watson shared the joint lead after a dream finish to his second round at Turnberry.
World number one Woods endured a nightmare back nine on the Ailsa Course and stood seven-over par as Watson drained a 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th to join fellow American Steve Marino in the clubhouse on five under. Woods fought back with birdies at the 16th and 17th but a round of 74 left him on 145 – five-over-par and one outside the predicted cut mark. Five-time British Open champion Watson had started his round in joint second place on five-under and immediately improved with a birdie on the first. But five bogeys in the first seven holes followed and he looked to be gently sliding out of contention until a pair of birdies around the turn gave him renewed hope. His best shot came at the tough par-4 16th as he rolled home a monster putt from all of 75-feet to go back to four-under. Two fine blows to the 18th and another birdie putt completed a par round of 70 in windy conditions and a two-round aggregate of 135. “The spirits were on my side,” an emotional Watson told BBC Sport after his incredible finish. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could win it,” added the golf legend who says he will play in his final British Open at St. Andrews next year.
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Woods had missed the cut in only one major championship as a professional, the 2006 U.S. Open after the death of his father and was desperately disappointed by his performance. “I had a few really poor holes in a row. I hit a few bad shots. It just seemed to be problem after problem and I kept compounding it,” he told BBC Sport. “It is very disappointing. I just did not play certain holes well enough.” Reaching the turn at two over par, Woods’ problems started on the 10th as his tee shot sailed way right and the ball was lost, costing him a double bogey. A further bogey followed on the 12th before another horrible error on the 13th saw him run up another six despite being only a medium iron from the green off the tee. Two late birdies showed his fighting qualities but his chip for a repeat on the 18th came up short and effectively ended his hopes of a 15th major title. Marino, who only made the tournament as an alternate, followed his first round 67 with a 68 to set the surprise early clubhouse pace. He was joined by the remarkable Watson, with another veteran American Mark Calcavecchia also in the hunt on four-under after a round of 69.
First round leader Miguel Angel Jimenez is still in contention after fighting back on the back nine to card a three-over 73 for three-under 137. Two-time defending champion Padraig Harrington also made the cut on three-over-par but is struggling to make an impression.