2012 British Open: What Tiger Needs to Do to Sit atop Day 2 Leaderboard
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If every golfer in the field had the chance to include a 15th club in their golf bag, most would choose a magic wand.
When longtime starter Ivor Robson introduced the 18th game at the Open Championship on Thursday, he did not hand Woods secret clues to find the pins around Royal Lytham and St. Annes. There was no magic potion that Joe Lacava tucked in Tiger's golf bag.
The Open Championship started Thursday with unusual circumstances. The wind forgot to show up. At the British Open, having no wind is like showing up at a circus without any clowns.
Nobody was laughing when Woods made four front-nine birdies en route to a four-under-par 30. His entire round was a ball-striking clinic. In a post-round interview with ESPN's Tom Rinaldi, Woods was asked if he wants (the wind) to blow on Friday. Woods, smiled and exclaimed, "Absolutely, it is a great test." Woods finished with a three-under-par 67, three back of first-round leader Adam Scott.
Nobody this side of Winnie the Pooh wants the wind to howl more than Tiger Woods. Why? Because the challenge of playing the same course—with tougher conditions—eliminates the weak at heart. Major championships are about surviving, and usually it's the players that manage to gut-out holes and rounds that find themselves within a hot-iron engraving tool from getting their name spelled correctly on the Claret Jug.
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Check the major winners since Paddraig Harrington's putt dropped on the 72nd hole at the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills in 2008. Fourteen different players have hoisted major championship hardware.
Speaking of 14, that's the same number of majors on which Woods is sitting. Can he get to 15 on Sunday? If the anemometer starts to spin out of control, look for the lurking Tiger Woods to climb up the leaderboard. His late tee time on Friday will put him in a likely Doppler path of having to contend with more harsh weather conditions.
Having won the Open Championship three times, Woods knows that there are two keys to making it atop the leaderboard before the whistle blows on Friday. The first is continuing his Dickensian machine-like ball-striking mastery. His work with Sean Foley is continuing to progress to the point that the older Woods is looking like the Woods of old. He will also have to avoid the penal bunkers on Friday. The wind direction and pin placement will make club selection and wind gauging interesting. This will also test the player's caddies (see below).
The other part of Tiger's game that might cause the field to be concerned—one weekend in June at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. Even the short-termed memory golf historian might not forget that Woods faded off the leaderboard on Saturday in the U.S. Open. And on Sunday, he was a snorkel and fin away from Alcatraz.
And there is maybe one more reason Tiger Woods will be atop the leaderboard at the close of business on Friday. Stevie Williams. The leader has a caddie that used to have a business relationship with the guy tied for third.
That might be coincidence or motivation—it's all perspective.
All quotes obtained for this article were courtesy of ESPN sports and in an interview between Tom Rinaldi and Tiger Woods.
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