LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England — Keegan Bradley thought the closest water hazard at Royal Lytham & St. Annes was the Irish Sea about a mile away.
He found one Friday on the 15th hole.
Any other day, this would be called a pot bunker. But after a summer of endless rain in England that pushed the water table to its limit, it only took about a half-inch of rain overnight to fill the bottom of bunkers and turn dozens of them into small ponds at the British Open.
“I had no choice but to play it,” Bradley said.
He wasn’t alone.
Phil Mickelson had to take relief from a bunker just short of the first green. Rory McIlroy’s ball was submerged.
“I guess you just have to treat them as if they’ve got stakes around them,” said Geoff Ogilvy, who hit into a few pot bunkers in the fairway that were relatively dry. “You probably should treat them like that, anyway, because they’re pretty much a one-shot penalty, anyway.”
Bunkers are considered hazards, so Bradley’s only other options were to take a drop from casual water no closer to the hole – this would have taken him to the back edge of the sand and hit a shot with his feet outside the bunker – or take full relief on the grass short of the bunker with a one-shot penalty.
He felt as though his best chance was to blast away at half-submerged ball. He did well to splash it out to about 20 feet to escape with a bogey.
He shot 2-over-par 72 and made the cut on the number at 3-over 143.
THE MAGIC OF WATSON: Tom Watson captured the zaniness of his last two holes Friday perfectly: “the ridiculous to the sublime.”
A careless miss from 2 feet at No. 17 produced a bogey left him at 4-over par, certain he was going to miss the cut. Then, at No. 18, Watson misread the break on a 35-footer for birdie, started it on the wrong line and watched as “it just did a duck hook at the end there and went right into the hole.”
The 72 landed Watson just inside the cut line at 143.
AIN’T WASTING TIME: Mark Calcavecchia was never going anywhere no matter how he played Friday because he has the Senior British Open at Turnberry next week.
He ran off three early birdies and held on for 68. The 52-year-old former British Open champion easily made the cut at 139.
“That was my goal,” he said. “I wanted to play all four days here, and not have to sit around until Thursday of next week over at Turnberry, so I’ll have something to do this weekend. I’m in a pretty good spot. I don’t see why I can’t shoot a couple of more scores in the 60s and wind up with a good weekend.”