ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – The English are coming!
That’s the cry that went around St. Andrews early in the second round, and the rest of the field can hear it loud and clear.
Many have predicted an English win this week. With four Englishmen in the top 10 of the official world ranking, and English players tearing it up on the PGA Tour this year, it didn’t take a leap of faith to make that prediction.
Lee Westwood and Paul Casey represent half of the English contingent in the world top 10, and they’re living up to their billing after two rounds in the 139th Open Championship.
They are on 6 under for the tournament. They should be lower.
Casey returned a second consecutive 3-under-par 69. The only ugly number on his card came at the 17th. He made a triple bogey to undo three of six birdies. Westwood, meanwhile, didn’t make a bogey all day, but he only made one birdie. He should have made more.
“I’m behind where I ought to be,” Westwood said. “I should be 10 under at worst. I’m just a bit rusty on the greens.
“I just didn’t get as much out of my round as I should have done. That was the case yesterday, too. I shot 67 yesterday and it should have really been a 64. I shot 71 today and it should have been a 66. I felt like I hit a lot of good putts that didn’t go in.”
Casey would be closer to the lead had it not been for the 17th hole. The Englishman found the left rough off the tee, and with it, disaster.
He tried to hack out of a deep lie and the ball never moved, another hack and the ball was back on the fairway, a fourth shot short of the green and three more shots to get down took him from 8-under par to 5 under. A birdie at the last meant he was tied with Westwood.
“To be honest, I’m not even that frustrated with what happened on 17,” Casey said. “If you had told me I’d be in the clubhouse on 6-under par I would have bitten your arm off.”
Westwood isn’t that concerned at not capitalizing on his fine driving and iron play. He feels his putting can only improve.
“We can sharpen it over the weekend,” he said. “No matter what the conditions are, I’ve still got a couple of good scores in me.”
Westwood’s been the most consistent English player in the majors over the last three seasons, but still hasn’t managed to join other Englishmen in golf’s most elite club.
Sir Nick Faldo is the last Englishman to win a major, and to win the Open Champion. He won the 1996 Masters, and the 1992 Open Championship at Muirfield. He predicted before the championship that an Englishman would soon join him in the major club.
“Look at the last five years of the majors and the English and the British players have started to get more and more experience,” Faldo said. “Everybody is learning and everybody is really keen. I think something is going to happen this week.”
Look out – the English are coming.