LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England — The disappointment for Paul Casey was not a 41 on the back nine Thursday that took him from the first page of the leaderboard at the British Open to his ninth consecutive round over par. It was not getting a chance to emulate Seve Ballesteros.
Casey, trying to rebuild his confidence after recovering from a shoulder injury, was at 2-under par for the opening round when he hit his tee shot so far right on the 15th hole at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that it went into an area of concession stands and corporate tents marked out-of-bounds.
That part of the course was used in 1979 as an overflow parking lot which Ballesteros made famous. The Spaniard drove into that spot from the 16th tee in the final round, received a free drop from near a car and made birdie on his way to winning.
“I just think Seve would have loved to have been given the opportunity to play from the tented village,” said Casey, who shot 72.
Casey wasn’t aware that area was out-of-bounds when he found himself walking amid hamburger, pie and ice cream vendors.
“I would have loved to have carved one around to the green, but I wasn’t allowed to, so that was a little disappointment there,” he said. “But it wasn’t a very good shot, so it is what it is.”
He went back to the tee and did well to make double bogey,
CLARKE’S DEFENSE: Darren Clarke had no excuses for not making much of a defense.
The winner last year at Royal St. George’s, he began this Open with a beautiful tee shot to 8 feet, and the birdie putt never had a chance. He bogeyed the next two holes, and Clarke was on his way to 76.
“I’m basically disgusted with myself,” Clarke said.
In 12 tournaments this year, Clarke has made only five cuts – and three of those events didn’t have a cut. The year has not been a total loss: Clarke’s biggest win was getting married in the spring.
Even so, he wants to perform his best, especially at his favorite major.
So he had only one thought walking up the 18th to another ovation.
“How the bleep did I manage to win this last year?” he said.
TOM TERRIFIC: Tom Watson continues to defy his age. The 62-year-old Watson, who lost in a playoff at Turnberry three years ago, was 1-under until two bogeys on the last three holes for 71.