independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Battling Watson bounces back to keep cut streak alive in Sydney

TOM WATSON fought like a tiger to keep a proud career record intact.

The American golf legend (63) has never missed the cut at a regular tournament overseas – and his determination not to start now shone through as he posted the low round of the second day at the Emirates Australian Open.

Watson made the weekend with one stroke to spare after rebounding brilliantly from his opening 78 with a splendid four-under-par 68. "I hate missing cuts, I really do," he said. "That means you've failed.

"Aside from the (British) Open, I've never missed a cut overseas," added Watson, who sank a 40-foot putt for birdie at eight, his penultimate hole on the Lakes Course in Sydney, then holed a seven-footer for par at the last.

"That was a good morning's work," he mused. "I didn't put it in the ice plant or the water and, somehow, it improves your score a little bit when you don't do that."

Ironically, as Watson eased through, two teenage sensations from China, Andy Zhang and Tianlang Guan, both 14, missed out.

Guan posted a 70 yesterday after his 82 on Thursday. Zhang headed home early from Sydney after rounds of 76 and 77. Watson trailed leader Marcus Fraser by eight.

Darren Clarke was tied 25th on two-under going into the weekend at the Thailand Golf Championship when he held on for a level-par 72 after his roller-coaster ride around Amata Spring Country Club.

Clarke (43) lay 12 off the pace set by Charl Schwartzel. South Africa's 2011 Masters Champion led by four after shooting a faultless 65 for the second day in succession.

Sergio Garcia (69) and last April's Augusta hero Bubba Watson (70) were tied sixth on six-under.

The official opening of the 2013 European Tour season was postponed for the second day in succession yesterday. The fairways at Royal Durban GC, the venue for the inaugural Nelson Mandela Championship, were still under water after an electrical storm dumped a further 30mm of rain on the course overnight.

Irish golfers Peter Lawrie and Damien McGrane were among those hoping for some action before heading across South Africa to Leopard Creek for next week's Alfred Dunhill Championship.

Des Smyth had an eagle and three birdies, but still lay seven off leader David Frost at the MCB European Senior Tour Championship in Mauritius.

Thailand Golf Championship, Day 3

Live, Sky Sports 3, 6.30am

Nelson Mandela Championship, Day 3

Live, Sky Sports 3, 1.0pm

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