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Fine line between contender, cut

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SANDWICH, England – World No. 1 Luke Donald will watch the final two wet and windy rounds at Royal St. George’s from a couch, ditto for No. 2 Lee Westwood and two-time Open champion Padraig Harrington.

But it’s not so much the marquee on the wrong side of this week’s cut at the Open Championship as it is the distance between those headed home and those headed into the weekend in contention.

Westwood and Harrington finished at 4-over 144, one stroke outside the cut of top 70 and ties and yet just eight strokes out of the lead shared by Lucas Glover and Darren Clarke. Even Donald, who bogeyed his last four holes to miss the cut by three strokes, was theoretically in the hunt at 10 back.

As Rory McIlroy observed on Friday, “Four shots in 36 holes in these conditions is nothing.” Remember Paul Lawrie began the final round in 1999 at Carnoustie 10 strokes behind Jean Van de Velde on his way to the claret jug.

Until 15 years ago the likes of Westwood and Donald would be around for the final two turns at St. George’s, but in 1996 the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews removed the “10-shot” rule after 103 players made the cut in 1995 at St. Andrews.

Ten years before that the Open featured a second cut after 54 holes, but considering Saturday’s raw conditions Donald and Westwood may be just as happy to watch the proceedings from their couches.