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Ross Fisher
Ross Fisher is ready to leave at a moment's notice. (Redington/Getty Images)

Notebook: Fisher won't labor over decision to leave

TURNBERRY, Scotland -- Ross Fisher's double dream of winning the Open Championship and then flying home to see the birth of his first child is still on after a second-round 68 on Friday.

Europe's top player in last month's U.S. Open -- he finished fifth -- is 3 under at halfway.

His wife Jo was due on Tuesday and Fisher's manager Conor Ridge has instructions to tell him the moment she goes into labor.

"I've got through Thursday and Friday and hopefully I'll get through Saturday and Sunday," said the 28-year-old, who intends to pull out of the Open if there are developments -- even if he is leading.

"Obviously Jo is in my thoughts, but I'm focused on golf when I'm out there on the course,” he said. "I think my game is ready to win the biggest and the best tournaments. I lost by only three at Bethpage and even beat Tiger by one, so hopefully I can go a little bit better."

Fisher and his wife do not know whether they are having a boy or a girl and nor have they settled on names.

Could there be a Turnberry connection if he does triumph? "I've not entirely ruled that out, but I'd be surprised," he replied.

WHERE'D EVERYBODY GO?: The attendance for the second round of the Open was estimated at 28,000 on Friday. Apparently, most of them got lost on their way to the grandstands lining the 18th green.

There was about an hour of rain in the middle of the afternoon, yet the wind pushed away the clouds when Tom Watson and Tiger Woods finished up their rounds about an hour apart.

Watson, 59, made history when he holed a 45-foot birdie putt to become the oldest player atop a major championship leaderboard. Woods failed to chip in for birdie and missed the cut in a major for only the second time in his career.

The most stunning scene of all was the sight of grandstands that were about half-full on both sides.

The Royal & Ancient said ticket sales were slightly up -- there were 25,000 people at Turnberry in the second round in 1994 -- but cautioned that this links course simply doesn’t hold as many spectators as St. Andrews or Royal Birkdale.

The economy played a role, too, not to mention that Turnberry is one of the few links where a train doesn’t run through town.

Even longtime coaches and agents have commented on thin galleries.

“The galleries were massive inside the ropes with our group,” said Lee Westwood, joking about the photographers covering the threesome of Westwood, Woods and Ryo Ishikawa of Japan.

Still, the Englishman said it was worth coming to Turnberry every so often even if that meant a smaller crowd.

“I think the current economic climate does Turnberry no favors,” Westwood said. “I think it’s a fantastic links golf course, and it would be a shame if it wasn’t on the Open rota. It’s great to see it back.”

MY WIFE, MY CADDIE: Mark Calcavecchia’s wife, Brenda, is his caddie for the week. That’s nothing new. She has carried his bag occasionally since they first started dating in 2001, and she was his caddie the weekend before they got married in Italy.

Calcavecchia counts two victories with Brenda on the bag -- the Maekyung Open and the Shark Shootout.

“She golfs,” he said. “She knows what she’s doing out there. When it started raining on 16, she said, ‘Don’t worry about me, I don’t care if I get soaked.’ So she knows that I don’t worry about her. She knows she’s got to keep the clubs dry. The bag weighed a ton today, and she’s got to be exhausted. But she’s doing great. She’s having fun.”

It isn’t always that way. Asked if he liked having her on the bag, Calcavecchia said, “Almost every time.”

He quickly clarified.

“It’s my fault. It has nothing to do with her,” he said. “When I get all (ticked) off, like at Hoylake, I ruin the whole week. When I went berserk on the back nine, I just ruined the whole week. I still feel bad about it. It’s always my fault when something doesn’t work out between us when she’s caddying. She’s nothing but positive for me out there.”

THE GAUNTLET: Daniel Gaunt made his debut a memorable one.

The 30-year-old Australian, who has been chasing around the mini-tours in Europe, made it to Turnberry through local qualifying last week. He played a practice round with Tom Watson on Monday, then joined up with John Daly on Tuesday.

The best stuff came Friday, when Gaunt went through the toughest stretch at Turnberry in 2 under and wound up with a 67. It was the lowest score of the second round, and allowed him to make the cut at 3-over 143.

Gaunt hit 5-iron to the back of the eighth green and rolled in a 40-foot birdie putt, then chipped in for birdie from 30 yards short of the ninth green.

The highlight of the week might have been playing Turnberry with Watson, the ’77 champion.

“He gave me some great advice, told me to keep it low,” Gaunt said. “The way Tom played on Monday, I came home and said, ‘He’s definitely got a chance of winning.”’

He just didn’t realize he’d still be in the game on the weekend, too.

FIT FOR LAUGHTER: Anthony Kim was studying his 35-foot birdie putt on the eighth hole when he had a brief exchange with caddie Eric Larson that caused him to laugh. Then, the 24-year-old American couldn’t stop laughing.

He backed off the birdie putt, bowed his head and tried to stop. Once he finally settled down, Kim ran his putt up the slope to about 4 feet and the giggles continued. Kim again had to back away from his 4-footer for par as he nearly reached hysterics.

Rory McIlroy couldn’t keep from smiling himself as he watched from the back of the green.

“That was funny,” McIlroy said. “I’m not sure what it was about. Anthony asked him what time it was. Maybe Eric was supposed to say it was birdie time. I don’t know. But it was funny.”

Kim never recovered from a quintuple-bogey 9 on his second hold. He shot 73 and missed the cut.

And then it was time to leave.

HEADED HOME: Ian Poulter brought the clothes, just not the game.

One day, the Union Jack was part of his vest and he shot 75. He went with a fuschia pants and shot 79. So it’s not the clothes. And it wasn’t the course, either. Nor was it the clubs.

“I hit my last good shot on the third (hole) -- yesterday,” Poulter said Friday. “Seriously, there were no decent golf shots out there. If you’re going to play as bad as I played for two days, it doesn’t matter what golf course you’re playing. It could have been the easiest municipal down the road, and I would have missed the cut. It was horrible.”

That it?

“I could have had a set of spades in my bag this week and I still wouldn’t have found the middle of the greens,” he said.

LOCATION IS EVERYTHING: One clothing company has found a unique way to advertise at the Open. Its logo is plastered on the sail of a large boat that has been cruising along the Firth of Clyde behind the ninth tee down to the 11th tee.

It’s hard to miss it.

That’s a problem for photographers, however, because that stretch is among the most popular for pictures. Along with the cliffside beauty, they often capture the image of players with the Ailsa Craig and Turnberry Lighthouse -- sometimes both -- in the background.

“Why would I want a photo of that?” one photographer said, packing up his gear and looking for a better spot.

CAMPBELL WITHDRAWS: New Zealander Michael Campbell, yet to make a halfway cut this year because of shoulder trouble, withdrew on the 12th hole of his second round.

The former U.S. Open champion was already 20 over par when he told playing partners Mark Calcavecchia and Paul Broadhurst he was pulling out.

Campbell last made a cut at the Dunhill Links Championship last October. In 14 tournaments this year, he has had nine missed cuts and five withdrawals.

EXPERIENCE PAYS OFF: Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy believes the experience he has gained over the last year probably helped keep his Open dreams alive.

The 20-year-old began Friday 1 under, but three birdies were cancelled out by five bogeys and a double as he closed with a 74 for a 36-hole total of 3 over. That should be enough to ensure he makes the weekend, but McIlroy, who won first European Tour event at the Dubai Desert Classic in February, felt there were times when he could have let it slip.

"It is such a tough golf course and conditions were tough and you just have to stay patient," said McIlroy. "I thought I played okay but I threw a couple of shots away. It was just a bit of an untidy round but there were a lot of positives to take from it.

"There will be times when things don't go your way and there will be other times when you have to take advantage,” he added. "Probably this time last year or 18 months ago I would have thrown it away and missed the cut, so I'm happy with the way I hung in and stayed around.

McIlroy, winner of the Silver Medal as the leading amateur at Carnoustie two years ago, will have to make a significant move in the next two days if he is to even challenge for a top-10 place.

"If I'm eight or 10 back, I'll need to throw in a couple of 67s at the weekend to have a chance," admitted the world No. 22.

ANGER BOILS OVER: Paul Casey broke his driver in anger and missed an 18-inch tap-in during a second-round 76 he wishes he could start all over again. The putting blunder came first for the world No. 3 on the fifth green.

"I didn't mark it, but I took my time and it just popped left off the club," said Casey after falling back from 2 under to 4 over.

The resultant double-bogey 6 was followed by another on the eighth, where he took out his annoyance at a bad drive on the club involved.

"It was certainly done out of frustration," admitted Europe's top-ranked player, who was left with only 13 clubs he could use for the rest of his round. "It had been in the bag for four years -- it's had a good innings -- and I didn't need it any more."

MONTY PUT OFF BY LYLE ROW: Colin Montgomerie has admitted Sandy Lyle's derogatory comments about him this week have affected his game. Montgomerie shot rounds of 71 and 74 to stand at 5 over for the tournament and in danger of missing the cut.

When asked if he had been distracted by Lyle's comments, the 46-year-old replied: "Very much so, yes."

The job of European Ryder Cup captain for 2010 was given to Montgomerie earlier this year, but Lyle said he still held out hope of being involved behind the scenes. Those chances are now non-existent, however.

"I thought it was amusing this morning -- and this is the last thing I want to say on the matter -- that he hopes it (the row over his comments) doesn't jeopardize his vice-captaincy position," said Montgomerie. "I thought that was very funny."

The Scot was disappointed with his golf this week, adding: "The last six birdies I've had I've followed them with six bogeys. You can't do that. You feel you are making one step forward only to go two steps back unfortunately."

Lyle, who is 8 over and will not be returning for the weekend, said after his round Friday he wanted to end the simmering row.

"I feel sorry for Colin in some ways. I don't want to keep stirring the pot but I keep opening my mouth and making back pages," said the 1988 Masters winner. "I'll get on with my game, he'll get on with his and it will all be forgotten in a couple of months' time."

MESSAGE TO SEVE: Miguel Angel Jimenez sent a message to Seve Ballesteros on Thursday night after taking the first-round lead.

"Seve's meant a lot for the Tour, for lots of people," said Jimenez, his 1997 Ryder Cup vice-captain, after the 64 that equaled the lowest first round in Open history. "He's the mentor of the Tour and players like me are looking up to him. It's something that you're never going to forget.

"To see the way he fights and the way he is going forward gives you lots of motivation to do anything in life,” he added. "The power is inside yourself and the power is inside Seve. And I just want to say keep going and see you soon on the fairways."

The Associated Press and PA Sport contributed to this report.

 

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