LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – The week began with hopes of the first English winner of a British Open in England since Tony Jacklin at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 1969. Going into the final round, the best hope is the No. 1 player in the world.
That would be Luke Donald. He was 10 shots behind.
Donald felt like he didn’t miss a shot over the first hour Saturday and was 1 under through five holes until he tried to blast out of a deep bunker on No. 6 to get it close enough to save par. The gamble failed, and he wound up with a double bogey. Donald didn’t make another birdie until the 17th hole, and by then it was too late. He had to settle for a 71 that left him too far behind Adam Scott.
There’s nothing left for him to do today but “go out there and enjoy it.”
“I’m probably too far back to have a chance, but as always, I’ll give a go out there, give it my all,” Donald said. “You never know when you’re going to learn something, even though you don’t have a chance to win. Try and see how good I control the ball in the wind.”
Donald had his caddie, John McLaren, back on the bag with him in the third round. McLaren left Friday because his wife, Helen, was due with their first child. She had a girl they named Georgina. But there wasn’t a lot of chatter about babies.
“But he was certainly beaming when he walked in the door this morning,” Donald said.
Donald now has to wait three weeks until the final major of the year, the PGA Championship, at Kiawah Island on the South Carolina shore. The only positive to take out of the Open is it’s the first major this year he will tee off after lunch. He wasn’t even around Sunday at the U.S. Open, where he missed the cut.
“I’m getting closer,” Donald said. “My record isn’t that great in this championship. But I’ll take some confidence from the last few days. Certainly after the disaster at the U.S. Open, this is much improvement. And as I said, I’ll walk away from this week knowing that my game is good enough. It just needed to happen at the right time.”
Tom Watson and John Daly are paired early today in the final round, two players with nothing in common except their names on the claret jug.
This won’t be the first time Watson and Daly are in the same group.
They were part of a threesome – with Paul Goydos – in the final round at Bay Hill in 1998 when Daly tried to reach the par-5 sixth green – again and again and again. He put six balls in the water and finally two-putted for an 18.
Watson referred to it that day as a tragedy and a comedy. Maybe he’ll get more of the same at Lytham.
Attendance for the British Open is slightly up from last year, when it was held on the other side of England at Royal St. George’s. The crowd of 37,800 for Saturday was up from 36,500 last year. For the week, attendance is nearly 2,000 more people. … For the first time this week, no one had a bogey-free round. … Jason Dufner’s caddie was so ill Saturday morning that he was replaced by the caddie of Sergio Garcia, who missed the cut. … ESPN said its ratings for Thursday were up 40 percent for the early morning (when Tiger Woods played) compared with last year, and up 22 percent for the late morning and early afternoon. For Friday, it was 20 percent for the early morning and up 50 percent (when Woods played) for the late morning and afternoon.