They made a left turn into the weekend Friday at St. Andrews, where John Daly, Katsuyoshi Tomori and Brad Faxon lead at the midway point of the 124th British Open.
Here they are, three guys at six-under-par 138 with nothing else in common except they all hold their golf clubs with two hands.
Daly is known for his big drives and now for his big appetite after he admitted polishing off four doughnuts and a chocolate chip muffin during his round. The 14th club in his bag probably is a fork.
Daly, who shot 71, isn’t worried about gaining weight.
“As long as my pants fit, I don’t care,” he said.
Tomori is a household name, but mainly in his own house. A 40-year-old from Fukuoka, Japan, he started playing golf when he got a job picking up balls at a driving range when he was 22.
He is using a caddie from Turnberry and neither understands the other. But after shooting a 68, Tomori understands enough to think St. Andrews is not too hard. He isn’t sure if he likes links courses or not.
“It will depend on how he does this week,” Tomori’s interpreter said.
Faxon was an economics major at Furman, which probably explains his economical use of the swing in a round that required only 67 strokes.
As he is also a student of the game, Faxon, although playing St. Andrews for the first time, still remembers the color of Jack Nicklaus’ sweater when he won here in 1978.
“Light blue and white argyle,” said Faxon, who watched Nicklaus’ victory on television.
It was definitely sweater weather Friday on the wind-whipped Old Course, where the only thing worse than the direction of the wind was its cold, cold heart.
The blustery wind played tricks with nearly every shot, even putts, and that made it kind of cozy between the leaders and their closest pursuers.
Ernie Els, Corey Pavin and Ben Crenshaw are one shot behind the leaders at five-under 139, lodged in a group that also includes John Cook, Mark Brooks and Costantino Rocca.
Payne Stewart, Vijay Singh and Justin Leonard are next at 140, only two shots off the lead.
Pavin looked at the scoreboard and called it a parking lot.
“When I see a leader board like that, I try not to pay any attention that much,” he said. “It’s really hard to keep track of, there are so many people.”
Tom Watson and Mark McNulty, who had part of the first-round lead, didn’t have their best days. Each shot 76 and is five shots back.
Despite everything, Els had a chance for something really special. He led by a shot after a remarkable stretch of birdies at Nos. 10, 12, 13 and 14.
Just when he thought he was on his way, he was blown off it. He bogeyed the 413-yard 15th when he three-putted from 40 feet and dropped another shot with a bogey at No. 17 after he missed the green.
“I tried to push too hard,” he said. “I should back off a little bit and take it more easy. It’s a learning experience. Now I have gotten over it and I go on.”
Bill Glasson’s fall was a lot harder. He was tied for the lead when he got to the 17th hole, then hit his tee shot out of bounds on his way to a quadruple bogey eight. He finished with a 74 and is at 142.
Crenshaw was blown off track by the blustery wind and managed only a 72, but that was good enough to keep him as close to the action as the Jigger Inn is to the 17th hole.
“I was just leaving too many approach putts short,” Crenshaw said.
Nick Faldo had six birdies and only one bogey. He put himself back in contention with a 67 and a 36-hole total of 141 after opening with a 74.
He said that if the ball wasn’t hit in the right places, the wind would make sure it went in the wrong places.
“That’s the tough thing out there,” he said. “With the wind whipping across, you have to hit the ball exactly where you want it. It’s not easy.”
What Daly found difficult was a 180-foot two-putt for a birdie on the 316-yard 12th. His one-iron tee shot hit the green shared with No. 6. Daly stepped off the yardage of the putt.
“I think the hardest I swung all day was on that first putt,” he said.
Daly left it four feet short, but made the second for a birdie. He finished the back nine in 33 and fought off a migraine that he blamed, at least in part, on what he ate.
He polished off four powdered doughnuts on the eighth hole, then downed the muffin at the 10th, which he enjoyed even though it gave him a headache.
“That muffin probably didn’t help,” he said. “They sell ‘em at the Shell stations in the States. They got ‘em here too. They’re great. They’re not chocolate, though. I wish they were.”
This is Tomori’s third British Open, and his best result so far was a tie for 51st last year at Turnberry. Even though he doesn’t speak English, his game has translated into a surprising position after 36 holes.
His interpreter said Tomori is just happy to be here.
“No words to express his feelings,” the interpreter said. “He just smiles when he gets a birdie, and when he makes a bogey, he feels anguish in his heart.”
Actually, this probably is the same in any language. Come Sunday, the anguish level may be a little higher all the way around.
British Open Notes
Despite his 10 on the 14th hole Thursday, Jack Nicklaus made the cut at 148, following his first-round 78 with a 70. He birdied Nos. 3 and 4, then had 14 pars. . . . Tiger Woods (74-71) also made the cut in his first British Open. Four of the five amateurs in the field made the cut, including 6-foot-8 Gordon Sherry (70-71). . . . John Cook, who finished second to Nick Faldo in the 1992 Open at Muirfield, said it’s a myth that Americans can’t play well in the British Open. “You see the names up there [now],” Cook said. “It is not what we are accustomed to, but that doesn’t mean we can’t play it.”
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
John Daly: 67-71--138
Brad Faxon: 71-67--138
Katsuyoshi: Tomori 70-68--138
Mark Brooks: 70-69--139
John Cook: 69-70--139
Ben Crenshaw: 67-72--139
Ernie Els: 71-68--139
Corey Pavin: 69-70--139
Costantino: Rocca 69-70--139
Justin: Leonard 73-67--140
Vijay: Singh 68-72--140
Payne: Stewart 72-68--140
Seven tied at 141 *
Nick Faldo: 74-67--141
Phil Mickelson: 70-71--141
Bernhard Langer: 72-71--143
Tom Watson: 67-76--143
Seve Ballesteros: 75-69--144
Jose Maria Olazabal: 72-72--144
Nick Price: 70-74--144
Greg Norman: 71-74--145
a-Tiger Woods: 74-71--145
Tom Kite: 72-76--148
Jack Nicklaus: 78-70--148
NONQUALIFIERS Paul Azinger: 74-75--149
Curtis Strange: 73-76--149
Lee Trevino: 75-77--152
Arnold Palmer: 83-75--158