2017 Open Championship: 9 takeaways from Friday at Royal Birkdale
SOUTHPORT, England — Steve Stricker kept a personal streak alive by making the cut in The Open Championship, the 25th major championship since 2009 that he has played on the weekend.
Former champions Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington weren't as fortunate, heading home after failing to get inside the cut line of 5-over par.
Harrington came close, barely missing out on holing a chip on the final hole. Mickelson, meanwhile, added a 77 to the 73 he shot in the first round to finish 10 over.
"Unfortunately, it's the first cut I've missed this year," Mickelson said. "And I missed it with flair."
Mickelson, with brother Tim on the bag in place of former longtime caddie Jim Mackay, looked as if he might make a run at playing on the weekend when he opened with a birdie on the first hole. But a triple-bogey 7 on the third hole set him back and he made four straight bogeys to open the back nine.
"It's part of the game," Mickelson said. "I don't want to put too much stock in it, because I've really been hitting the ball well and playing well. So rather than dwell on two rough days here, I'll go back home and get ready for these upcoming events."
The 50-year-old Stricker, who tied for 16th at both the Masters and U.S. Open this year, has never won a major championship. He opened this one with an even-par 70, then added a 72 in blustery conditions in the second round.
Harrington, who won here the last time the Open was at Royal Birkdale in 2008, couldn't believe the chip that would have gotten him inside the cut line didn't go in. He finished with two 73s.
"It looked like it was going in all right," he said. "The story of my day."
NOT SO STYLISH: Justin Thomas got a lot of attention in the first round when he wore a cardigan sweater and loosely fitted tie designed by sponsor Polo Golf.
He also played well, shooting a 3-under-67 to finish the day two shots out of the lead.
He wasn't so well dressed Friday, and he didn't play nearly as well. Thomas, who opened with a double bogey, took a nine on the sixth hole after an adventure in the deep rough.
He tried to hack it out of the rough but his hands came off the club and the ball stayed there. He tried it again — same thing. And on the third try, he didn't see where it went and couldn't find the ball, leading to a penalty stroke and a drop.
Thomas would shoot 80 and miss the cut.
SPEAKING SPANISH: Rory McIlroy was in the mixed zone talking with writers about his round, while Lee Westwood was a few feet away talking about his.
McIlroy suddenly turned as he heard someone speaking loudly in Spanish.
"I thought that was Lee speaking Spanish," he said, laughing at the thought.
It actually was Jon Rahm, a Spaniard who is fluent in both English and Spanish.
BRINGING IT HOME: Mark O'Meara was embarrassed when he hit the opening tee shot of the Open out of bounds on his way to an 11-over 81.
He made up for it with a second round more befitting a former champion.
O'Meara, playing in his last Open at the age of 60, shot an even-par 70 in difficult conditions. It wasn't enough to make the cut, but it did make him feel better.
"I knew the conditions were going to be tough out there today," said O'Meara, who first played the Open in 1981 and won it in 1998. "I just wanted to play respectable."
O'Meara got an ovation from the crowd in the grandstands lining the 18th fairway as he walked to the green. He took off his hat and waved it to the fans.
"I felt the warmth of the crowd, obviously coming up the 18th hole," he said. "I'm not Tom Watson, I'm not Jack Nicklaus, I'm not Arnold Palmer. I'm just a guy who in '98 was lucky to win the championship and hoist the claret jug."
MOVEABLE OBJECT: Rory McIlroy thought he might get a drop. Instead, a big sign on the 15th hole got a lift.
McIlroy's tee shot on the par-5 went way right, into deep rough near a spectator path. It ended up just behind a big yellow sign with arrows on top pointing fans in the direction they want to go.
Instead of giving McIlroy a drop clear of the sign, European Tour chief referee John Paramor set about moving the sign. He used a wrench to get it loose, then hoisted it over his shoulder, to cheers from the crowd.
McIlroy got the ball out, but it landed in a fairway bunker and he ended up making a bogey 6.
"I actually had an embedded ball there," he said. "Every other week we get relief from (that). But because we're playing with the R&A rules this week, we don't get relief from an embedded ball, so a double whammy."
HOMETOWN HERO: Tommy Fleetwood is playing the weekend for the first time at The Open, and it couldn't happen at a better place.
Fleetwood is from Southport, and used to sneak on occasionally at Royal Birkdale to play a few holes. The leading player on the European Tour this year had high hopes for his homecoming and local fans came out to cheer for him.
But he shot a 76 in the first round and needed to get under par in his second to make the cut. He did, but just barely, shooting a 69 that had him smiling in relief.
"It was definitely one of the rounds of the year," he said. "I didn't want to be sitting at home for the weekend and moping around."
It is the fourth Open for Fleetwood, but the first one he made the cut.
"I'll be up early in the morning trying my best. You never know with The Open, you never know with the conditions, what's around the corner," he said. "I've never played a weekend at the Open, so I actually don't know, really. But we'll see. It will just be nice to be playing now."
STENSON BREAK-IN: Henrik Stenson had more than the wind at Royal Birkdale on his mind when he teed off Friday in the Open. The private house where he is staying this week was burglarized.
Stenson says he learned about the burglary when he finished his opening round. He said the thieves took some valuable personal items and all his clothing for the week.
What they didn't get was the claret jug, the trophy he was given for winning the Open last year. He gave that back to the R&A on Monday.
Stenson said he was happy that his family was not there at the time and was not going to let the burglary spoil what has been a great week for him as the defending champion.
ANGRY SERGIO: Masters champion Sergio Garcia was upset and hurt after angrily swinging his club into shrubs on the fourth hole during his second round.
He clutched his shoulder immediately after hurting himself, but continued to play. He ended up with a 69 and was 2 over for the tournament.
Garcia said he was treating the injury with pills and got physical therapy afterward.
"Obviously, I am not happy about it because I almost screwed up my Open," Garcia said. "Fortunately for me, I didn't."
YOUNG TALENT: Competitive golf was not limited to Royal Birkdale this week at the Open. There was a match down the road at Southport & Ainsdale between the 13-year-old sons of Ian Poulter and John Daly.
Luke Poulter had a 1-up victory over Little John Daly in eight holes.
The boys returned to the Poulter house, and Poulter reported that one of them was very happy (Luke) and one was upset (Little John). Poulter says it probably didn't help that Luke was playfully rubbing it in.
Poulter, a longtime thorn in the Americans' side at the Ryder Cup, smiled and said the boy must have picked that up from his mother.
This article was written by Tim Dahlberg from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.