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Tom Watson knows he needs to avoid the bunkers this weekend. (Photo: Getty Images)
Tom Watson knows he needs to avoid the bunkers this weekend. (Photo: Getty Images)

Notebook: Watson makes the cut, wants to improve

Even after making his third straight Open cut at age 56, Tom Watson sees room for improvement over the next two days. Plus, Miguel Angel Jimenez motors right into contention, Kenneth Ferrie's back goes out at a bad time, and more.

HOYLAKE, England -- Five-time champion Tom Watson made his third successive Open Championship cut on Friday at the age of 56, but then admitted he wasn't happy with his game.

Watson, who won the last of his titles at nearby Birkdale in 1983, carded a 2-under-70 to comfortably make the weekend.

He went out in 32 after recovering from a bogey 5 at the fifth to register four birdies. But coming home was more difficult, and he ran up 38 for the back nine, with two 6s spoiling the birdies he had at 13 and 18.

"I'm not playing particularly well. It was really a struggle the whole day," said Watson, who prior to 2003 had missed four cuts in five attempts. "I wasn't feeling very good with the golf swing and it was going sideways sometimes.

"The game is not very good right now. I'm glad to be here on the weekend but I'm going to have to change something to get the swing to work a lot better," he added. "But the golf course will yield a lot of birdies, if you keep the ball out of the bunkers. I didn't keep it out of the bunkers."

RYDER CUP WOES: Tom Lehman had plenty of reasons to be disappointed Friday at Royal Liverpool.

He celebrated the 10-year anniversary of his Open Championship victory by taking triple-bogey on the seventh hole on Friday to tumble out of contention. Needing a birdie on the par-5 18th hole to make the cut, he took a bogey and was headed home.

Worse yet was the performance of his potential Ryder Cup team. Of the Americans between Nos. 6 and 18 in the Ryder Cup standings, Vaughn Taylor was the only one who made the cut.

Zach Johnson and Stewart Cink spent two days playing practice rounds with Captain Lehman, and neither broke par in the first two rounds. Lucas Glover (No. 10 in the standings), shot 73 and has not made the cut in a major this year.

Perhaps the most troubling was Davis Love III, who is 11th in the standings and is no guarantee to be a captain's pick.

Love went from the lead to missing the cut at The Players Championship. He finished outside the top 20 at the Masters, and now has missed the cut in the U.S. Open and at Hoylake. He wasn't even close this week, not making a birdie until the final hole for a 72 that put him at 3-over 147.

Fred Couples is No. 12 and started with a 70, appearing to cope with his ailing back. Then came a 76 in the second round, and he was gone.

Taylor birdied the final hole for a 71 to make the cut on the number.

The other ray of hope came from Chris DiMarco, who shot 65 and was three shots out of the lead. DiMarco started the year at No. 4 in the standings, but only one top 10 -- an eight-way tie for ninth at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship -- has sent him tumbling to No. 21.

"Hopefully, I can get some points," DiMarco said. "And if not, at least show Tom that my game is back and I'm ready to go. I know he knows the drive and the competitiveness in me is there, but he has to see some signs of good golf, and hopefully that will carry over to the weekend."

DALY DOINGS: John Daly began his week playing in the same pub that launched The Beatles.

He finished his week at Royal Liverpool on a long and winding road that led to a triple-bogey 8 on the final hole and a surprising departure.

Daly made an eagle on the par-5 16th and was 2-under for the tournament when he hit his driver well to the right and out-of-bounds on the closing hole. He reloaded from the tee and found the fairway, but trying to reach the green to limit the damage to a bogey, he hit fairway wood OB. He hit the green on his sixth shot, then took two putts for an 8.

Daly shot 73 and finished at 1-over 145.

NICKLAUS SURPRISED: Jack Nicklaus, the runner-up in 1967 the last time the Open came to Royal Liverpool, thought the links course might be too short with bunkers not far enough from the tees to stop low scoring. Tiger Woods led at 12-under 132, and Nicklaus was surprised the leading score wasn't better.

"I expected scores to be a lot lower than they are," he said in an interview with TNT Sports. "When I was here in May, there really wasn't much rough and there's been virtually no rain since. That's probably kept the scores up. If there was a little rain, the rough still probably wouldn't have gotten up very high, yet they could still keep the ball on the fairway and probably stop the ball on the greens."

MECHANIC KEEPS MOTORING: Miguel Angel Jimenez insists he will remain focused on his own game and not worry about what Tiger Woods is up to.

The Spaniard was four shots ahead of the field at one stage on Friday after moving to 9-under, with the highlight an eagle 3 at the fifth.

Bogeys at seven, eight and 11 took the shine off his blistering start, but Jimenez, nicknamed "the Mechanic" for his love of cars, closed with a birdie to finish on 7-under 137 after a 70. And he believes he is in good shape and can make a charge this weekend.

"Of course you have to be a little bit disappointed when you get to 9-under then let it slip," admitted Jimenez, who is five behind Woods. "I just lost a little bit of feel out there, that was the problem. But I am quite confident going into the weekend.

"I cannot worry about Tiger, only my own performance," he said. "I like this course and my game is good. I am hitting the ball well at the moment."

FERRIE BACKS OUT: England's Kenneth Ferrie, who shared the lead with a round to play in the U.S. Open last month, will not be around for the last two rounds of the Open.

Already 6-over when he reached the eighth tee, Ferrie called for medical attention because of a back problem and withdrew. Ferrie, 13th in the European Ryder Cup standings, left Angel Cabrera and Mark Calcavecchia to continue as a two-ball.

"I got a sharp pain -- really, really bad," he explained. "To be fair, I would have needed to shoot lights out to make the cut, but I'm disappointed not to have had the opportunity. To play so well the last couple of months this is one you would obviously like to play well in, but it's one of those things."

He also said he is doubtful for the European Tour event in Germany next week.

DOUGHERTY FALLS SHORT: Nick Dougherty, the only Liverpool-born player in the Open, made an early departure from it, suffering a sixth successive missed cut.

In another big blow to his hopes of a Ryder Cup debut in September, the 24-year-old's first appearance in the championship ended with rounds of 74 and 73 for a 3-over 147 total.

Any hopes Dougherty had of recovering from his opening round were effectively over once he resumed with two bogeys, and then had another on the long fifth. His predicament was made all the worse by the fact that playing partner Miguel Angel Jimenez covered the same stretch in 4-under and at that time led the event by four.

A week ago, the former European Tour Rookie of the Year was in despair at his game, and said that if was not the Open and the Ryder Cup countdown, he would be looking to take a break to clear his head.

His battered confidence was repaired by linking up with coach David Leadbetter on his arrival at Hoylake, but he could not convert it into scores once the championship started.

MCDOWELL LOSES GROUND: Overnight leader Graeme McDowell had to be content with a 1-over 73 in his second round and slipped back down the field. McDowell did well to finish with a bogey at the last after an air shot.

The Northern Ireland prospect's troubles began when his drive veered straight right. The ball was heading out of bounds, only to bounce back into play, but that was where his luck ended.

"I was in a huge clump in the rough but thought I could still get club on ball. But I caught the grass instead and the ball did not move at all," explained McDowell, who was one shot ahead overnight. "I did well to get up and down and finish with a 6. That was the best I could really have hoped for."

McDowell's round ended as it had started, as he found rough at the first to begin with a bogey. However, he moved to back to 6-under at the 10th before coming to grief at the 18th, posting a total of 5-under 139.

"I did not sleep well last night but that was only because it was very hot," he explained. "I thought I performed pretty well today considering the circumstances. I was three or four putts short of getting myself into a really good position.

"Leading the Open is a great feeling and I will be trying to get back into contention the next couple of days," he added. "The crowds were fantastic to me. I got a great reception all the way through. I had a lot of fun. Now I can go out tomorrow with the pressure off me. I am looking forward to the weekend."

Copyright 2006 PA Sport and Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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