Sixty players advanced to final 2 rounds of US Open and plenty of big names didn’t

By Jim Oconnell, AP
Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cut is painful for some at Open

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Sixty players — the lowest number possible — made the 36-hole cut for the U.S. Open on Saturday, with 11 players one stroke away from being able to play the final two rounds at Bethpage Black.

Peter Tomasulo, who missed the cut at Torrey Pines last year in his first Open by two strokes, was among those who missed this year by one.

Tomasulo shot a 3-over 73 in the first round and lost three more strokes to par in the second round before a run of four straight birdies starting at No. 1, his 10th hole of the day, had him at 2 over. However, the 27-year-old, who has made the cut in three of 14 PGA Tour events this year, bogeyed three of his last five holes to drop to 5 over.

Nathan Tyler, a second-year pro playing in his first Open, was in the final group on the course and needed a birdie on the par-4 18th to make the cut. He drove the ball in the fairway but pulled his second shot into high, heavy grass near a greenside bunker. He didn’t advance the ball with his first swing, knocked it into the bunker with his second and then holed out from the sand for a bogey 5, missing the cut by two strokes.

There were plenty of big names heading home, too, including former major champions Padraig Harrington, Ernie Els, David Toms, Justin Leonard and Michael Campbell.

Toms, Rory Sabbatini, Luke Donald and Miguel Angel Jimenez were at 5 over, one stroke better than Brian Gay, who won the St. Jude Classic last week, and Leonard.

Harrington, the reigning British Open and PGA Championship winner, finished at 12 over, while Ernie Els, the 1994 and 1997 U.S. Open champion, missed the cut for just the third time in 17 Open appearances, finishing at 15 over, one shot better than Campbell, the 2005 Open champion.

Paul Casey, ranked No. 3 in the world, was 10 over.

Harrington shot consecutive 76s to miss the cut in a major for the first time since the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont. The British Open and PGA champion hasn’t broken 70 on the PGA Tour since a first-round 69 in the Masters.

“Such is life. Can’t do anything about it now,” Harrington said.

He’s having trouble consistently fading his shots.

“I don’t have any shape at the moment,” the Irishman said. “When you’re not playing well, it’s not easy to play with no shape. That’s something for me to look into. I’ve only got half the fairway to look at because I don’t know which way it’s going to go.”

WESTWOOD HO! Lee Westwood was third in last year’s Open, his third top 10 finish in nine appearances.

One of the players stuck with the label of “best not to have won a major,” Westwood started this Open inauspiciously with a 2-over 72, then jumped into a tie for seventh after 36 holes with a 66.

Westwood had six birdies, including three in a row to start the second round, and two bogeys to move up the leaderboard and into contention.

“I’ve always wanted to win a major, but you can only do what you think is the right thing. I can only do what I think is the right thing for Lee Westwood to win one of those,” he said. “I’ve been doing that, and last year gave me a good chance — came up one shot out of the playoff, but gave me a lot of confidence.”

AMATEUR HOUR: Nick Taylor led the three amateurs who made the cut by tying a record that was last matched in 1971.

Taylor, a rising senior at the University of Washington and the 2009 Pac-10 player of the year, shot a 5-under 65 at Bethpage Black on Saturday, the third time an amateur shot a round that low in an Open.

Taylor’s 138 total left him six strokes off the lead of Ricky Barnes and had him as low man among the 14 amateurs in the field. Drew Weaver of Virginia Tech was at 141 after a second-round 72 and Kyle Stanley, the NCAA Division I runner-up this year from Clemson, shot a second-round 74 to make the cut on the number at 4 over.

James McHale shot a 6-under 65 at St. Louis Country Club in 1947, and James Simons had a 5-under 65 at Merion Golf Club in 1971.

“It’s a good feeling to be able to make the cut and play the weekend,” Taylor said. “You know, I’m a couple under par, and tomorrow I have really no expectations, so just go out and play as well as I can and not have any pressure for the most part.”

DOUBLE DIP: Ricky Barnes, the leader after 36 holes, is trying to become the 12th golfer to win the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur titles, a list that includes some of the sport’s greatest names.

Bobby Jones won four Opens — all as an amateur — and five Amateurs, while Jack Nicklaus won four Opens and two Amateurs and Tiger Woods won three Amateurs to go with his three Opens. Others who have the career double include Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Gene Littler and Jerry Pate.

Only two players won both titles the same year, Charles Evans Jr. in 1916 and Jones in 1930.

HERE’S MUD: The topic of having to play a golf ball with mud on it has been a hot one since the rain started falling Thursday morning.

Graeme McDowell, who started the third round at 1-over 141, has one of the better philosophies about the subject.

“There’s mud and there’s wet and there’s stuff on your golf ball from time to time,” he said Saturday. “Like I say, you’ve just got to club up a little bit and hope the ball stays on the planet.”

JONES WITHDRAWS: Matthew Jones was the only player in the field of 156 to withdraw before the cut was made.

Jones, a native of Australia playing in his first Open, withdrew Saturday morning because of a back injury.

A former All-America at Arizona State, Jones shot an opening-round 78 and was 2 over through nine holes in his second round when play was suspended Friday night because of darkness.

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