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July 19, 2009

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Watson takes shot at history as Tiger flies home

TOM Watson held a two-stroke lead at the British Open, bouncing back from his first bogey of the day with a birdie at Turnberry's seventh hole.

The 59-year-old Watson, trying to become the oldest major champion in golf history, reached the green of the par-five seventh in two and got down with two putts yesterday. That made him even for the round and five-under for the tournament, erasing a bogey at No. 6 when he failed to get up-and-down from a greenside bunker.

Watson already had two great par saves, overcoming a drive into a fairway bunker at No. 3 and another testy bunker shot at the fifth, barely clearing the lip before he rolled in an 18-foot putt.

Par was a good score at blustery Turnberry, as 36-hole co-leader Steve Marino could attest. Watson's American compatriot slid down the scoreboard with a run of three straight bogeys, followed by a double bogey, before an eagle at No. 7.

Retief Goosen was briefly tied for the lead with Watson - until the South African took a double bogey at the seventh. Watson was two strokes ahead of England's Ross Fisher and 49-year-old Mark Calcavecchia, also trying to become golf's oldest major champ.

On Friday, Tiger Woods, the world's best player and right in his prime, was supposed to be homing in on a 15th major championship, another step closer to Jack Nicklaus' record 18. Instead, he missed the cut, hopped his private jet to Florida, and gave his personal chef a few unexpected days off.

Woods must have felt like everything was stacked against him, because he's sure not used to failing. This was only the second time in 49 major championships as a pro that he failed to make it to the weekend. "Kept making mistake after mistake."

Woods dropped seven shots during a wretched six-hole stretch, and not even two late birdies could spare him the indignation of missing the cut. Needing to chip in for birdie on the 18th hole, he came up a few feet short and tapped in for a 74 and 145 total, one shot off the cut.


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