British Open notebook

Tiger Woods needs a miracle to contend

South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen, 27, is no longer a no-name after his dominant, seven-stroke victory at St. Andrews.
By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 18, 2010

ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND -- If Tiger Woods is to become the first man to win three British Opens at St. Andrews, several things will have to happen. The leaders will have to stall and even stumble. He will have to continue to strike the ball well, as he has for much of this week. But the most unlikely occurrence: Woods's putter will have to wake up.

"I certainly have had a lot more putts on the greens than I ever have," Woods said, "and that's something that has basically kept me out of being in the final few groups."

Woods's 1-over-par 73 in Saturday's third round left him at 3 under for the tournament, 12 off the pace set by South African Louis Oosthuizen and tied for 18th place. After switching putters for the first time in 11 years for this tournament -- selecting a Nike model that, he said, allows the ball to come off the clubface more quickly, which he felt would be better suited for St. Andrews's slower greens. But after needing 32 putts in each of the first two rounds, he took 35 Saturday. Woods missed makeable birdie putts at the first three holes.

"If those go in, it's a whole different ballgame," Woods said. "That's what the guys are doing at the top of the board. They get off to quick starts."

Woods also finished slowly, three-putting 13, 14 and 18 -- after he drove the green -- when a good score might have been in reach.

"I just didn't get anything out of the round," Woods said. "I couldn't build any momentum."

Marino survives scare

Steve Marino finished his 3-under 69 Saturday in most interesting fashion. At the 17th, the famed Road Hole, he wanted to keep his 4-iron approach low, below the breeze, and run it onto the green. But he hooked it -- directly toward the Road Hole bunker, the deep, greenside cavern that is perhaps the worst place to be on the course.

"It looked like it 'toilet-bowled' around there," Marino said.

That it did, spinning as if in a pinball machine around the sodded sides of the bunker, then coming all the way around to sit in front of it. Marino barely failed to get up-and-down from there for his only bogey of the day, and stepped to the 18th tee with one thought.

"I was trying to hit it hard and get it up there on the green," Marino said. And that he did, driving the 357-yard par 4. He barely missed the 20-foot putt for eagle, tapped in for birdie and settled for his second 69 in three days to get to 2-under for the tournament.

"I'm playing okay," Marino said. "I'm not playing great. Obviously yesterday was a struggle, but everybody struggled. I left some shots out there today, and missed some putts, but I'm here tomorrow. . . . Any time you can make the cut in a major, you learn something."

Marino, a Fairfax native and University of Virginia alum, has now made the cut in all three majors this year, tying for 14th at his first Masters and for 63rd at the U.S. Open.

Lefty left 'disappointed'

Phil Mickelson had played the British Open 16 times before this week and had just one top-10 finish -- third in 2004 at Royal Troon. He has some work to do if he's going to get a second one, mostly because of two holes.

"I'm disappointed in myself," Mickelson said.

The reason: A double bogey at 16, where he arrived 4 under for the tournament, and a bogey at 17. At 16, he hit 5-iron off the tee -- and hooked it out-of-bounds, leading to the double.

"I let a good round slide," he said. "I let a good opportunity to get back into the tournament, somewhat, to where a good round [Sunday] could maybe get it done, and I let it go." . . . Mark Calcavecchia, who entered the third round trailing only Oosthuizen, slipped away when he made a 9 at the fifth hole, a disaster that involved him mistakenly picking up a provisional shot he hit because he thought a wayward shot into gorse had been located. That wasn't the case, and Calcavecchia went on to shoot 77.

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