Two weeks after enjoying the perks of a U.S. Open champion, from dining with the prime minister to watching the Wimbledon men’s final from the Royal Box, Justin Rose led a parade of stars exiting the British Open.
Rose shot a 6-over 77 Friday to finish with a two-day total of 152, missing the cut by 2 strokes. He was joined by several former major winners, including Rory McIlroy and Jim Furyk, as well as a few others, like Luke Donald, Matteo Manassero and Nick Watney, ranked among the top 30 players in the world.
“Golf humbles you all the time,” said Rose, No. 3 in the ranking.
The last U.S. Open champion to miss the cut at the British Open was Lucas Glover in 2009.
Two weeks of unseasonably warm weather and sunshine made the fairways in some places rock-hard and more than a few greens lightning-fast. Even players like McIlroy who grew up playing on links courses found the conditions testing their patience beyond the limit.
The Northern Irishman shot 75 to go with a first-round 79. Birdies were so few and far between that with his departure before the weekend already guaranteed, he celebrated one at No. 17 with an exaggerated fist-pump.
“That was a very big putt for me,” he said, laughing.
Six-putt hole is costly
The nickname for Nicolas Colsaerts coming into the Open was the “Belgian Bomber.”
He can only hope someone doesn’t change it to “Six-Putt.”
That’s how many putts it took Colsaerts to get the ball in the hole on the 15th green, where he ended up making a quintuple-bogey 9. He missed the cut by a shot.
“When you see it on TV it will look like a stupid situation but he was trying on every putt and he missed each time,” said Michel Vanmeerbeek, Colsaerts’ putting coach. “One of the best players in the world ends up looking stupid.”
If it’s any consolation, Colsaerts wasn’t alone. Zach Johnson three-putted from 10 feet, a putt from Billy Horschel went 30 feet when it was supposed to go only 15, and player after player walked off the green shaking their heads in amazement.
“Obviously, 15 was a bit of carnage, when I’m trying to two-putt from 10 feet,” Johnson said. “That was just not easy.”
Ian Poulter was happy just to get down in two on the green, where the hole was cut on a slope that was exposed to the wind.
“I managed to two-putt it, so I’m over the moon,” Poulter said.
Tough finish for teen
Jordan Spieth’s win at the John Deere Classic last weekend made him the youngest player to win on the PGA Tour since 1931. The 19-year-old was making a serious bid to become the youngest British Open Championship since 1868 — until he got reckless over the four closing holes Friday.
Spieth made just two bogeys in his first 32 holes to reach 3 under and stake out a spot near the top of the leaderboard. Then he went double bogey at No. 15, bogey at Nos. 16 and 17, and closed on a sour note by missing a 4-foot birdie putt at the last hole. Despite the 3-over 74, he was still in contention at 143 heading into the final two rounds.
“Yesterday I was, for some reason, extremely patient with just taking my 30-footers and just trying to give myself tap-ins and not worrying about making birdies,” Spieth said. “Today I got to a point where I finally had enough and wanted to really hit it closer.
“And that,” he added, referring to his closing stretch, “is what happens when you try.”
O’Meara, Lehman struggle
Making rash decisions on the course is rarely a problem for Mark O’Meara and Tom Lehman. The two former British Open winners, 56 and 54, respectively, parlayed experience into scintillating opening rounds. Friday, though, was a different story.
O’Meara, the 1998 winner at Royal Birkdale, followed up his 67 with a 78; Lehman, who won at Royal Lytham in 1996, followed his 68 with a 77.
“I just played pretty poorly, to be honest with you,” O’Meara said.