Big Names Big Moves -- Big Surprise


TROON, Scotland -- Skip Kendall fired a 5-under 66 on Friday to surge into the lead after the second round of the 133rd British Open Championship. Kendall finished 36 holes at 7-under-par 135 for a one-shot edge over Frenchman Thomas Levet.
'It feels great. I really wasn't paying much attention to the leaderboards out there today,' said Kendall. 'It was a lot of fun out there.'
England's Barry Lane posted a 68 to join K.J. Choi in a tie for third at 5-under-par 137. Local favorite Colin Montgomerie missed a short putt at the last to join Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Michael Campbell and Todd Hamilton at 4-under-par 138.
Tiger Woods was among the big names making waves early under windy conditions at Royal Troon. While the wind died down in the afternoon, Woods was steady in the breeze Friday morning and two-putted for a birdie at the par-5 fourth.
Woods then converted a birdie putt to reach minus-3 and just like that the 2000 Open champion was back in the mix. The top player in the game was soon betrayed by his putter, however, when he missed a short par putt at the seventh.
The 28-year-old missed left with a 9-foot par putt at the ninth to fall back to even par on his round. Woods could not manage a single birdie on the inward half and finished six shots off the pace after a round of 71.
'The golf course was not playing easy,' said Woods, who tied for 24th at Troon in 1997. 'It was much more difficult today. It was even more difficult on the easier holes going out. It would have been difficult to try and get shots back coming in.'
While the wind meant trouble for the morning groups, those teeing off in the afternoon were faced with much calmer conditions.
Kendall, whose best finish in a major is a tie for 10th at the 1998 PGA Championship, posted a number that most thought was unattainable after the lack of scoring in the morning. He ignored what had come before him and took full advantage of the situation.
'I just wanted to play as well as I could,' said Kendall.
The 39-year-old found a bunker with his approach to the par-4 third but chipped in for a birdie. Kendall then birdied the par-3 fifth to move to 4 under.
'A pretty easy bunker shot, but how many times does the ball go into the hole,' he said. 'It went in and got my day going.'
Kendall stumbled to a bogey at the difficult par-4 11th, but drained a 25-foot putt on the very next hole for a birdie. He then dropped his tee shot inside 16 feet for a birdie at the 14th to move to minus-5.
At the par-5 16th, Kendall hit his approach just short of the putting surface. As has been the choice of many players this week, Kendall took out the flat stick from off the green and ran home the long eagle try to match Levet in the lead at 7 under.
Kendall, who has never won on the PGA Tour, parred his two remaining holes to find himself in an unlikely position heading into the weekend at a major championship.
'I really feel like I've been very close,' said Kendall, who lost in a playoff to Phil Mickelson at this year's Bob Hope. 'I really feel like I can win out on the PGA Tour, as well as any place else. I think it's just a matter of time. Hopefully this will be mine.'
Levet was on fire early and drained a long birdie putt at the second to become the first player this week to reach the 6-under mark. He took things a step further at the par-5 fourth after his second shot found a greenside bunker.
Levet hit out of the sand to 5 feet to move to minus-7. He had another birdie chance at the seventh after his second shot stopped within 15 feet of the hole, but was unable to convert.
The 35-year-old could have distanced himself even further after a solid tee shot to the par-3 eighth rolled to 10 feet. Levet missed the birdie effort right, however, but still managed to carry a comfortable advantage around the turn.
Levet was scrambling at the 12th and hit his fourth shot to four feet to save bogey. Levet, who finished second to Els in a playoff at the 2002 Open at Muirfield, was then passed by Kendall and parred his next six holes to complete a round of 70.
'I am a little tired after last week and the first two rounds here, but when you play that well it doesn't matter,' said Levet, who earned a spot in the field by winning the Scottish Open last week. 'I will have a couple of weeks off after this so it is okay, I will have a good sleep tonight and go for it tomorrow.'
Singh tallied a birdie at the second, but three-putted at the fifth for a bogey. The Fijian responded with a birdie at the par-4 seventh, but stumbled again with a bogey at the ninth.
The 41-year-old buckled down in the wind at the par-5 16th and sent his second shot past the flag. Singh then two-putted for birdie to reach 4 under.
'I liked the way I played today,' said Singh, who carded a 70. 'Whenever you play well you are going to enjoy it, but I am pretty relaxed out there. It's hard enough in the conditions out there to tighten up so I was trying to feel relaxed, breathe a little bit better and try and score a bit better.'
Els faltered with a bogey at the fifth but recovered well with a birdie at the following hole. The South African played his approach to 12 feet for a birdie at the 10th, but gave that shot back with a bogey at the 13th.
At the par-3 14th, Els missed the green off the tee, but chipped in for a birdie from a side hill lie. He then two-putted for a birdie at the par-5 16th en route to his second straight round of 69.
Montgomerie was on fire early on, giving the hometown fans plenty to cheer for. He sank a 20-footer for a birdie at the first and moved to 4 under with a birdie the second.
The Scot three-putted for a bogey at the third but countered with a birdie at the very next hole. Montgomerie found trouble again with a bogey at the ninth, but regained his form on the inward half with back-to-back birdies starting at the 15th to move within two of the lead.
Montgomerie acknowledged the galleries while he walked up the 18th fairway, but a mistake on the green changed his mood in a heartbeat. Montgomerie had three feet left for par, but was unable to convert. He tapped in for bogey and a round of 69.
'It was disappointing, but no perfect round of golf has ever been played on a links course and I don't suppose it ever will be,' said Montgomerie.
The amazing shots continued in the second round of the Open Championship and Hamilton did the honors on the front nine. He holed his second shot for an eagle at the par-4 seventh and added a pair of birdies and a bogey the rest of the way to finish three shots off the lead.
Retief Goosen and Phil Mickelson, the winners of the two previous majors this season, joined Kenny Perry, Mike Weir and Scott Verplank in a tie for 10th at 3-under-par 139.
Mickelson began the day at 2 over par, but tallied four birdies over his first six holes to make his presence known. The reigning Masters champion added a birdie at the 16th to complete a bogey-free round of 66.
Kim Felton posted a 67 to join fellow Australian Rod Pampling in a tie for 15th at 2-under-par 140. Woods was one shot further back along with Darren Clarke, Davis Love III, Gary Evans, Stuart Appleby, Gary Emerson and Adam Scott at 1-under-par 141.
Paul Casey, who shared the first-round lead with Levet, struggled with a 77 to finish in a group at 1-over-par 143.
The 36-hole cut fell at 3-over-par 145 with 73 players surviving for the weekend. Ben Curtis posted a 74 to finish at 7-over-par 149, becoming the first defending champion to miss the cut at the British Open since Paul Lawrie in 2000.
Other notables who missed the cut include: Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia, John Daly, Chad Campbell, Robert Allenby, Fredrik Jacobson, Thomas Bjorn and Stephen Ames.
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