Former champions at St. Andrews all miss cut at British Open
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — The last four British Open champions who won their titles on the Old Course missed the cut at St. Andrews on Friday.
Zach Johnson (2015), Louis Oosthuizen (2010), Tiger Woods (2005, 2000) and John Daly (1995) all finished over par after two rounds. The cut was at even-par 144.
Oosthuizen came the closest to making it the week, posting 74 to miss by one shot. Woods was the farthest out of that group. He opened with a 78 and followed with 75 for his worst 36-hole score in six times playing the Open at St. Andrews.
Woods acknowledged it could be his last.
“The people knew that I wasn’t going to make the cut at the number I was,” Woods said. “But the ovations got louder as I was coming home.”
Plenty of other former Open champions joined them in not making the cut, including Collin Morikawa. The 25-year-old American, who won the title last year at Royal St. George’s, finished his two rounds at 1 over.
Morikawa is the first defending champion to miss the cut since Darren Clarke in 2012. Clarke also won his only major title at Royal St. George’s.
Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson, Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington also failed to make the final weekend.
“It hurts missing the cut,” said Harrington, a two-time champion who birdied his first two holes Friday but shot 78 to end up at 3 over. “It hurts missing when you were 5 under par. Do you want any more hurts?”
The harsh wind and frequent rain of Scotland doesn’t often get confused with the golden sun and mild climes of California.
Then again, Sahith Theegala had never played the Old Course before this week.
The 24-year-old American took advantage of the mainly dry conditions at the British Open to put himself in contention at the oldest major of them all. He credited his upbringing in southern California.
“It’s funny that there’s no water or grass on a lot of California public courses. It’s like hitting off the hard pin,” Theegala said. “You kind of learn to hit these spinning wedges, like cutting them or hooking them. I feel pretty comfortable on some of the lies out here because I know some guys change their wedges or stuff, less bounce. But I’m used to hitting off hard pins.
“It’s a little purer out here, obviously. But, yeah, I think it definitely helped a little.”
Theegala is playing at his first British Open, but it’s not his first time on a British Open course. Not that he recalls his previous experience all that much.
“I was here nine, 10 years ago,” Theegala said. “I remember so little. I played Carnoustie, and I’m like, ‘This is the hardest course I ever played.’ I birdied 18 to break 90, shot 89.”
The birdies came far easier over the last two days. He had five on Thursday in a 3-under 69 and added four birdies and an eagle in a second-round 68.
Rory McIlroy hasn’t won a major since the PGA Championship in 2014 at Valhalla. That also was the last time Harris English missed a cut in a major.
There’s a chance both streaks can end this week at St. Andrews.
English, who only returned from hip surgery two months ago, had rounds of 76-74 to miss the cut. That ends his streak of 15 cuts in a row in the majors. McIlroy, meanwhile, goes into the weekend three shots out of the lead.
And then there’s Louis Oosthuizen, the latest example of how quickly fortunes can change.
A year ago, Oosthuizen was runner-up in two majors and lost a 54-hole lead in another. This year, he was the only player to not make the cut in any of the four majors.
The location meant a lot more than the scorecard for Mark Calcavecchia.
The record will show Calcavecchia posted rounds of 83-82 in his final British Open and finished in last place. The memory will be one final trip around St. Andrews, and gratitude for the R&A allowing it to happen.
Calcavecchia, who won at Royal Troon in 1989, was supposed to play his final Open in 2020 when he was 60. That was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic. And then he had surgery on his back and was still recovering ahead of Royal St. George’s last year.
He wrote the R&A and asked if he could push back his final appearance to this year at the home of golf, where his children had never been.
Coming up the 18th, Calcavecchia said he could feel the emotions.
“Got a little mildly choked up,” he said. “But all the way around the last two days, the fans were great. They were cheering for me and pulling for me. That was pretty cool. Forget about my golf. It wouldn’t have mattered if I shot a pair of 75s or a pair of 85s, which I nearly did.
“It was about playing one more, my last one here at the home of golf, which is really cool to be able to end it here.”
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