British Open notebook

British Open: Undone by second-round 80, Rory McIlroy ties for third

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
Monday, July 19, 2010

ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND -- Rory McIlroy is one of golf's great young talents, and there's scarcely a fellow competitor who doesn't believe he will one day win major championships. He did not do that at the British Open, though he very well could have. His final-round, 3-under-par 69 Sunday was his third round in the 60s this week -- including a major championship record-tying 63 Thursday.

But there was the matter of that 80 in the second round, on a windswept Friday.

"I couldn't help but think about Friday going up the last hole there," McIlroy said. "You know, if I had just sort of stuck in a little bit more on Friday and held it together more, it could have been a different story."

McIlroy ended up tied for third, a stroke behind runner-up Lee Westwood and eight shots off winner Louis Oosthuizen's winning total of 16-under 272. Had McIlroy managed even par in the second round -- a reasonable expectation, given that he has never had another round higher than 69 on the Old Course -- he would have tied that number.

"It's always satisfying to be up there in a major," said the 21-year-old from Northern Ireland. "But in these circumstances, after starting so well, I suppose it is a little bit disappointing that I haven't went on to challenge a little bit more."

McIlroy's tie for third is his second such finish in a major. He was third at last year's PGA Championship behind Y.E. Yang and Tiger Woods.

Putting woes sink Woods

Woods arrived at St. Andrews so convinced that his putter was causing his poor results that he switched to a different model for the first time in more than a decade. But after taking 99 putts over the first three rounds -- 11 more than Oosthuizen, the 54-hole leader -- Woods switched back Sunday to the Scotty Cameron by Titleist model with which he won 13 of his 14 majors.

"I just felt that my speed was off, and [was] just going back to something where I know how it comes off," Woods said.

Though he had just 27 putts Sunday, it didn't do him much good. Woods made two double bogeys in the first six holes and shot an even-par 72 that left him stalled at 3 under for the tournament, tied for 23rd. Since his victory at the 2008 U.S. Open, Woods has gone nine consecutive major championships without a victory. The longest stretch without a victory in his career is 10 majors, in 1997-99 and 2003-05. He will match that unless he wins the PGA Championship next month at Whistling Straits, where he finished tied for 24th in 2004.

"You just can't play and expect to win golf tournaments if you have nine or 10 three-putts for a week," Woods said. "No one can win doing that. Got to clean that up before I tee it up again."

Westwood still waiting

Going back to the 2008 U.S. Open, in which he finished third behind Woods and Rocco Mediate, Westwood has five top-three finishes in majors -- including Sunday's runner-up spot behind Oosthuizen and second to Phil Mickelson at this year's Masters.

"It's not really to be sniffed at and complained about," Westwood said. "That's all I'm going to try to do, just try to keep going as I am." . . .

Oosthuizen, a South African, received a call Sunday morning from his country's greatest player, nine-time major winner Gary Player, who spoke in their native language, Afrikaans.

"He was saying just to stay calm out there, have a lot of fun," Oosthuizen said. . . .

Fairfax native Steve Marino alternated 69s and 76s in his second Open appearance, finishing at 2 over and tied for 55th. His final round included a pair of double bogeys -- the first at 8, the second at 16. . . .

Tom Lehman, the 1996 Open champion, nearly aced the 357-yard par-4 18th, crushing his drive and running it just by the hole. "I saw it appear on the green and I thought, 'This has a chance,' " he said. He tapped in for eagle and finished 4 under, tied for 14th.

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