When the final round of the British Open begins Sunday, only 13 U.S. golfers will be among the 61 players remaining. Only three, Mark O'Meara, Peter Jacobsen and Tom Kite, have any chance to win.
But that doesn't mean the Americans aren't having fun.
Today, five of them, Jacobsen, Payne Stewart, Tom Watson, Fuzzy Zoeller and Larry Nelson, played in consecutive twosomes. "We all kept an eye on each other," Jacobsen said. "We kind of stuck together."
They especially stuck together when lightning began flashing all over the course. Watson and his playing partner, Gordon Brand (an Englishman tossed into the U.S. contingent), were on the 14th green. Jacobsen and Stewart were on the same fairway and Zoeller and Nelson back at the tee.
The lightning hit and everyone began looking to tournament officials for a sign to stop. But it wasn't raining and play went on. As Jacobsen walked off the 15th tee, he turned to Nelson and Zoeller and yelled, "How'd you guys like the light show?"
Two minutes later, the light show appeared again and play was suspended. Jacobsen, in the middle of the 15th fairway, decided to finish the hole. It was a good decision. He almost knocked a five-iron shot in the hole, rolling it 18 inches past. He tapped in for birdie and headed for cover.
Cover came in the form of a first aid tent. There, Watson sat with his wife Linda and caddie Alfie Fyles. Brand was plopped in a chair watching wrestling on a small TV. Another American, Paul Oglesby, had come back from 17 to the same tent.
"How many under are you, Peacock?" Watson asked Jacobsen. "Two," Jacobsen answered. "Go after it," said Watson, out of contention at seven over par for the tournament.
"Ice cream," Jacobsen said. "We need ice cream."
The caddies were drafted to search for ice cream. Jacobsen, famed on the tour as a mimic, began chatting with Fyles in a Fyles-like English accent.
A scorekeeper approached Watson for an autograph. "I'll make a deal with you," Watson said. "You change my score from seven over to seven under and I'll give you an autograph."
The youngster got the autograph. Watson remained seven over.
Then, with Jacobsen now wearing a British bobby's hat, the subject turned to basketball. Best all-around player of all-time?
"Bill Walton," said Jacobsen, who went to the University of Oregon. "No doubt about it. None."
"No way," said Watson, "Kareem."
"Larry Bird," said Stewart, who was eating his second ice cream cone.
The party was interrupted by the sobering news that the sun was out. It was time to go back to work.
"Birdie-birdie-birdie," said Watson, who had three holes to play.
"If I make three birdies, the rest of the guys might just give up and come in," Jacobsen joked.
As it turned out, Jacobsen made the best run. He rolled in a 40-foot putt for birdie at 16, then made a 20-footer to save par at 17. He finished with 68 and 213 -- four shots out of the lead.
"If I'm within seven shots going into the last round on this course, I've got a chance," Jacobsen said. "I'd love to win this tournament. It's the hardest tournament in the world to win because of the conditions and because the golf courses are so different than what we're used to."
One thing grates on Jacobsen at this point: the 9 he made on No. 14 Thursday after losing a ball in the left rough. Today, when he walked by there, Jacobsen noticed that the heavy rough had been mowed in the very spot where his ball had disappeared.
"Can you believe that?" he said. "I didn't even hit that bad a shot. Doesn't seem quite right."
The other Americans in serious contention are Kite and O'Meara. Both have had a lot of success on the PGA tour but have never won a major.
"I'd love to win," O'Meara said. "You come over here and read the papers all you hear about is (Severiano) Ballesteros and (Bernhard) Langer. Even with the guys who stayed home, there are still a lot of good American players here. I wish Curtis (Strange) had come, but he didn't. The rest of us will have to do the best we can."
They have not done so well so far. But at least today, in the middle of an English storm, they had a few laughs.