Disappointment for World's Top Two at Mid-way Point
    2011-07-16 13:42:37     CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Paul
CRI Sports' Paul Ryding reflects on an unexpected opening to the Open Championship in England.

The unlikely lads: the early exit of the world's top two players was most unexpected.

by CRI Sports' Paul Ryding

So much was expected of Luke Donald and Lee Westwood going into this Championship that it makes their exit all the more surprising.

Donald was fresh off the back of a solid (if shortened) triumph at the Scottish Open, while Westwood has been consistent in recent weeks and spoke of his confidence in the build-up to Royal St George's.

Their exit at the cut is proof of the unpredictability - if it was needed - of links golf. So fickle can a player's fortune be around an Open venue that it often throws up a most unexpected victor, which is probably why the Open Championship is my favorite of the golf Majors.

Indeed, it comes as a surprise to find five American players amongst the top ten. The serendipitous nature of links golf, with its other-worldly terrain, near-subterranean bunkers and god-like regard for weather conditions, usually sees American players struggle.

Surely the most thrilling story of the week so far is that of Thomas Bjorn's continued involvement in the shake-up.

It looked as though his fine start was to be exposed as just that when, after four holes of his second round, the veteran had already given back St George three of the birdies he had stolen in round one. But the wily Dane had the experience to pull his game round and keep in touch with the slow-moving leading pack as he took three more birdies before handing back a final two on the last seven in. He's now placed snugly in third place - with three others - and sits just one shot off the lead he occupied yesterday.

It seems as though this championship, so tightly-packed at the head of the leaderboard, is to be decided by who can handle the difficult conditions forecasted for the remaining two rounds.

It has been a relatively gentle introduction to Sandwich so far, but all that seems set to change as, with the added benefit of its capricious atmospheric elements, old St George seems ready to give the field a far more pressing second half.

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