Tom Watson defies age barrier to make the cut

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VETERAN Tom Watson continued to defy his age and the tough courses on The Open rotation as he extended his own record for being the oldest man to make the cut in the tournament.

The five-time champion, who will be 63 in September, birdied the 18th at Royal Lytham to sneak into the weekend with a three-over total of 143.

Watson, an expert on links courses, has now made the cut six times in the last eight years and came within a whisker of winning a sixth Claret Jug at Turnberry in 2009 before losing in a play-off. Although he almost messed things up yesterday. After producing a brilliant fairway bunker recovery – with his feet perched on the edge of the trap and his ball in wet sand – he hit it close on 17 before three-putting from less than 15 feet. However, he salvaged his tournament with a 3 at the last. “It went from the ridiculous to the sublime,” said the American, who finished joint 22nd at Royal St George’s last year. “I was thinking two over is going to be the cut and when I missed the putt at 17 I thought ‘I’m out of it now’.

“You’re always disappointed when you screw up like I did but you’ve got to get over it and say, ‘All right, I’ve got to make the putt at 18’ and I was lucky it went in.

“I hate to miss the cut. I still feel as if I can play certain courses although this course is a little long for me but I’m glad to still be there for the weekend.”

Watson admits his age – he had his hip replaced in 2008 – does cause him problems. “I wouldn’t say it was the best of me today. Actually I started off playing pretty well but then the body kind of wore out a little bit and I had some issues with it.

“My hip was hurting a little bit, I didn’t have a lot of rotation with it and it’s hard just to swing with your arms. It was kind of a struggle and I made some bad swings, putting the ball in the bunkers, but I did get the ball up and down well today and my putting was very good – with the exception of 17.”

• There will be no amateurs in the final two rounds of the Open. British champion Alan Dunbar, from Portrush in Northern Ireland, exited on six over after rounds of 75 and 71, while Austria’s European champion Manuel Trappel tumbled to a second round 83 to bow out on 17 over. It was all a big difference from last year, when England’s Tom Lewis shared the first day lead at Sandwich and with his 65 achieved the lowest ever round by an amateur in Open history.