English Open hopes rest with Donald
Top English hopes for a home win at the British Open – Luke Donald and Lee Westwood – were in contrasting moods as the tournament reached its halfway stage on Friday.
Both made the cut at Royal Lytham, but World No 1 Donald was still in contention at two under, eight shots off the lead after a 68, while World No 3 Westwood just managed to duck under the cut at three over after a 70.
Both players are seeking their first major title after a combined 93 previous failed attempts have saddled them both with the tag of being serious under-achievers.
Donald raised home hopes of a first English win on home turf since Tony Jacklin did so here 43 years ago when he ran off four birdies in five holes from the fourth.
But he failed to keep that charge going and bogeys at 10 and 13 left him with a sizeable gap to close on the leaders at the weekend.
He sounded confident though that he was still firmly in the hunt.
"I'm certainly feeling more and more comfortable," he said.
"It's nice to string a couple of solid rounds together in a major. Obviously where I am in my career I need to be contending. And obviously this was a good solid two rounds, and looking forward to the weekend."
In contrast, Westwood sounded a sombre note after his round, which saw him par his first 12 holes before he took a bogey at the 13th.
He got that back with a birdie at the next and then parred his way in for a solid round, but not a good enough one to compensate for his poor 73 on Thursday.
Standing 13 shots off the lead he admitted would likely prove to be too much of a gap too close, even if unpredicatble gusting winds are forecast for Sunday afternoon when the leaders are due to be heading out for their final rounds.
That was something he would just have to accept, Westwood said, keeping in mind that, at 39, he still had a few good years left to bag that elusive first major title.
"I'm a contender to win most majors. I play nicely most weeks. And over the last 12 or 13 major championships I've given myself lots of good chances," he said.
"So I'm going to have another chance in two weeks' time, aren't I, or three weeks' time (at next month's PGA Championship).
"It's just one of those things. You turn up, you try and play your best. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
"This time last year I was in the same situation. I think I missed the cut by a shot last year in the Open."
Westwood was not the only disappointed Englishman on Saturday.
World No 9 Justin Rose, who been considered a strong outsider before the tournament, failed to duck under the cut barrier as he came in with a 70 to stand at four over.
That meant that in 10 Open appearances since he sensationally finished in a tie for fourth as a 17-year-old amateur at Royal Birkdale, Rose has failed to post another top-10 result.
Former World No 3 Paul Casey, meanwhile, had another depressing day as he continues his battle back from sustaining a shoulder injury while snowboarding during the winter.
He had a 79 and at 11 over for the tournament was near the bottom of the 156-strong field.
Level with Donald on 138 was 27-year-old English qualifier James Morrison while Ian Poulter was on level par after a 69 and in need of a score in the low 60s to give himself any chance on Sunday.