By Andy Farrell, Special to PGA.com
SANDWICH, England -- It was not meant to end this way. Not after only two days. England beamed with pride at going into the 140th Open Championship with the top-two players in the world in Luke Donald and Lee Westwood.
England expected them to do their duty. Nothing less than a first English winner of the Open in England since Tony Jacklin in 1969 was the prize.
But Donald and Westwood will take no further part in this championship. Donald looked set at 2 over with five holes to play only to bogey the last four holes. At the 17th he could not escape a nasty spot in a bunker.
"It was a horrible lie," Donald said of not being able to find the green, "but it was a horrible shot to get there in the first place."
A victory at Castle Stuart in the Scottish Open last week seemed to reinforce his position as the best player in the world. Perhaps it was the worst thing that could have happened. In the last 80-odd years, only Lee Trevino has won the Open after winning the week before. "I think I had enough energy, I don't think it was that," Donald said.
But Donald, who had a 75 which left him at six over par, has never really contended at an Open and he admitted he is at a loss to explain this.
"I feel I've tried everything over the years," he said. "I tried to prepare the best I can and I know I have the ability to win a major. I've got to figure out a better way to play the Open. I'll keep searching and trying to put myself into position to challenge."
Westwood finished at 4 over par after a 73. When he walked off the course - and out of the recording area without stopping to talk about his misfortunes - he was 87th. Padraig Harrington was on the same mark and said he had no chance of playing on the weekend.
As the breeze got up, so did the scoring. But 4 over always looked like being one stroke too many. Westwood's 35 putts told the tale of his round. It was eight more than the average for the field. Give Westwood those eight shots back and he would have been sharing the clubhouse lead. Give him half of them back, leaving him at level par, and he would have taken his chances over the weekend.
Rory McIlroy, the world No. 4 and general darling of the golfing world after his U.S. Open cakewalk, is lying four strokes back and lurking with intent. It could be, however, that Martin Kaymer, the PGA Champion and world No. 3, is the man to watch. Quietly, the German snuck into joint third place, a shot behind the leaders Darren Clarke and Lucas Glover.
Phil Mickelson is the only other member of the world's top-10 who is under par. Steve Stricker and Jason Day, the runner-up at both the Masters and the U.S. Open, made the cut but Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell and Nick Watney all missed out.
While Donald and Westwood have yet to win a major title, and time is not on Westwood's side, Graeme McDowell has another problem. The Northern Irishman won the US Open at Pebble Beach last year and starred at the Ryder Cup. But this year he has been consistent only in his inconsistency and a 77 followed his opening 68.
"It is becoming a habit, these types of days," he said. "Maybe my expectation level is putting too much pressure on myself.
"This is the Open, we are under pressure. We want to do well. Maybe I'm putting a little too hard. I'm a bit of a mental case out there. I love this game and I'm working my ass off but it is not paying off. I'm not thinking very well. It is easy to think well when things are going right, but when things aren't going well, it is very difficult. I need to get back to grinding out rounds and stringing four good rounds together. I couldn't even string two together this week.
"It's anyone's Open right now. It's wide open. I felt if I kept it at level or a couple over, I'd still have a chance. It's just disappointing and frustrating."