HOYLAKE, England — The ovations from the packed galleries remain as warm as ever for Tom Watson at the British Open. His scoring continues to be just as impressive, too.
The 64-year-old Watson extended his record of being the oldest man to make the cut at the game’s oldest major when he shot a 1-over 73 on Friday. That put him at 2-over 146, just on the cut line.
“Let’s see what happens on the weekend,” the five-time British Open winner said, with that glint in his eye. “See if the old guy can maybe get it rolling a little bit.”
Playing a brand of “old man’s golf,” as he put it, Watson outlasted Masters champion Bubba Watson as well as Webb Simpson, Baton Rouge native Patrick Reed and Harris English — three guys looking to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team captained by Watson.
The way Watson has been hitting the ball this week, he wouldn’t look out of place on the team at Gleneagles in September.
“I’m thinking about picking the captain,” he said, laughing.
He needed a par 5 at No. 18 to stay at Hoylake for another two days and, to the delight of the spectators filling the horseshoe stand around the green, he avoided trouble and made it with ease.
“It was pretty special playing with Tom, and the reception he got,” Jim Furyk said. “And to watch him grind it out and make a birdie on the way in and make the cut was pretty cool.
“I was pulling for him pretty hard on No. 18.”
Royal Liverpool is not among the venues where Watson lifted the claret jug between 1975 and ’83, but he is as popular here as at Muirfield, Royal Birkdale or anywhere else on the Open rotation.
He acknowledged that he has been looking up at the stands more this year, soaking up the tournament’s special atmosphere in his next-to-last appearance at a British Open — provided, of course, he doesn’t finish in the top 10 at St. Andrews in 2015.
And who would bet against that?
Woods shows rust on Day 2
Tiger Woods still has plenty of rust. That was obvious Friday in the second round.
In just his second tournament since returning from back surgery, Woods shot his worst round at a British Open since that stormy day at Muirfield in 2002 — a 5-over 77 that required a birdie at the final hole just to make the cut.
It was his only birdie of the round.
Woods double-bogeyed the first, bogeyed the second, then settled for 14 straight pars before really making a mess of the 17th.
He knocked his first tee shot out of bounds, and yanked his do-over in the tall grass next to the 16th fairway. That led to a triple-bogey and put him outside the cut line — until a 6-foot birdie at the 18th.
Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els, who have been battling on the golf course since they were teenagers, shared a few meaningful words when they finished their rounds. Mickelson shot 70 and was back to even-par at the British Open. Els never recovered from that opening 79 and missed the cut.
Mickelson said he could see how shook up Els was on Thursday when he hit a spectator in the face with his opening shot.
“We’ve been friends for decades now, and we were saying, ‘Let’s get this thing going.’ We hit a lot of good shots. And our games ... we’re not getting out of it what we want, but they’re not far off.”
Mickelson said even before Els three-putted from 8 inches on the opening hole Thursday, he told Lefty what happened.
“He was shook up,” Mickelson said. “And I tried to say, ‘Look, you can’t worry about that. I do it all the time. But it didn’t help, I guess.”