Woods Out Of British Open

This year's British Open is full of surprises: Two Americans are tied for the lead — and neither of them is Tiger Woods. The world's No. 1 didn't make the cut in Scotland. Lawrence Donegan, the golf correspondent for The Guardian and author of Four Iron in the Soul, has the latest.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Madeleine Brand in California.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel in Washington.

In Britain, they just call it the Open. In this country, to distinguish it from the U.S. Open, the golf championship that was played last month in Bethpage, New York, we call it the British Open. And this year's British Open is full of surprises, starting at the top of the leaderboard.

After two rounds, two Americans are tied for the lead and Tiger Woods is not one of them. They're 29-year-old Steve Marino, who's never won anything on the tour, and 59-year-old Tom Watson who has won just about everything, but not for years.

Joining us from Turnberry in Scotland is Lawrence Donegan, golf correspondent for The Guardian and author of the book "Four Iron in the Soul." Lawrence Donegan, tell us about Tom Watson's day.

Mr. LAWRENCE DONEGAN (Golf Correspondent, The Guardian): Well, it was a wonderful day. A wonderful day for Tom Watson because he started off this morning tied for second place, birdied the first hole and then proceeded to drop five shots in six holes. Playing partner Sergio Garcia clapped him on the back going down the eighth fairway and said, come on, old man.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DONEGAN: And Watson duly did come on. He played his last 11 holes in four under par and it was really - he's a great wind player. He's got a great record here in Scotland. As I say, he played his last 11 holes four under par and that was capped off by this amazing putt in the final (unintelligible). It really was - it was one of those magical moments for those of us who cover the game of golf.

SIEGEL: Now that was Tom Watson's second round that left him at five under par, tied for the lead with Steve Marino?

Mr. DONEGAN: Well, Steve Marino is obviously a good player. He's playing in the Open championship. But he is one of these, you know, (unintelligible) in Britain, he's one of these faceless PG tour pros. But he, again, he played very, very well. He's clearly a good player. What's kind of odd about him is that he's never played links golf before.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DONEGAN: I mean, links golf isn't supposed to be this easy, but, you know, he came out and he played, again, a couple of rounds under 70 and there he is. I just felt slightly sorry for him that his big day was overshadowed, A, by Tom Watson and, B, by the other big story of the day, which involved Tiger Woods.

SIEGEL: Tiger Woods has missed the cut. That means, in effect, he's finished in the bottom half of the field. It's only happened once before in a major tournament, a championship for him. What happened to Tiger Woods today?

Mr. DONEGAN: Well, he missed a cut for the second time in a major championship, and that's the second time in his professional career. I mean, the first time was in 2006 at the U.S. Open in Winged Foot. And that came shortly after the death of his father, so that was perfectly understandable. This was not in the slightest bit understandable.

He came into this tournament as an overwhelming favorite. And we have all the bookies over here, as we would call them, and we couldn't get any decent odds other than for Tiger Woods. He won his last tournament playing the AT&T National in Washington, D.C. He played three practice rounds. He was magnificent.

SIEGEL: Yeah.

Mr. DONEGAN: We all expected him to stroll away with it. And he got on the golf course on Thursday morning and played. He shot 71, one over par, but for those of us who followed him 'round, it was probably one of the worst rounds of golf that we've ever seen him play. And came out today, typical Tiger, you know, battled, did well. But then, got in a temper, lost his ball, got a couple of duff chips and then the next couple of holes and then he was out of it. It was very shocking.

SIEGEL: Yeah. How's the weather?

Mr. DONEGAN: Well, yesterday was a beautiful Scottish day, it was -very light breeze. But today was dank and dark as a Presbyterian funeral, I have to say.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DONEGAN: It's very windy. The rain was out. Everybody had their umbrellas and we were all dressed in our rain gear. It was actually a classic Open championship day, really. It was great - it all adds to the gaiety of this event. Tomorrow, who knows what we'll get. The forecast is all over the place, it could be sun, it could be rain, it could be wind, it could be anything. That's all, again, all part of the joy of this event.

SIEGEL: Well, Lawrence Donegan of The Guardian, thanks a lot for talking with us.

Mr. DONEGAN: Thanks very much, Robert.

SIEGEL: The British Open in Turnberry, Scotland.

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