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St Andrews set for final scene

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Rob Hodgetts | 00:10 UK time, Sunday, 18 July 2010

And so the cameos come to an end as the men who set the scene bow out. We have a new cast of major players for the final act. All those left on the stage will have parts to play in the finale.

So goodbye to McIlroy, Daly, Calcavecchia and the other supporting cast. Thanks for your efforts.

Welcome, Paul Casey, Martin Kaymer, Henrik Stenson, Alejandro Canizares, Lee Westwood. And of course our leading man for two days now Louis Oosthuizen. Our star will come from one of you.

As understudy we have Dustin Johnson but you're unlikely to be needed.

But scripts can be changed, even ripped up. Paul Lawrie wasn't supposed to come from 10 shots behind to win at Carnoustie in 1999, but Jean van de Velde fluffed his lines. Quite dramatically as it happened.

Anyway, enough of the theatre analogies. Lawrie's comeback is still the Open record after 54 holes, meaning Nick Watney, Sean O'Hair, Retief Goosen and Ricky Barnes would have to emulate the Scotsman. Anyone else, starting with Rory McIlroy, would be straying into new territory.

Goosen, for one, was already conceding defeat. "Pretty much out of it now so hopefully just get a good round in and try to finish in the top five," he said.

But McIlroy - and the Old Course - have shown that strange things do happen. The 21-year-old went from a sublime 63 to a ridiculous 80 in the first two days.

"We'll just have to see what the weather does," said Tiger Woods, who knows better than most that it's never over until it's over.

Brisk breezes, gusting up to 25-30 mph, are predicted for early afternoon on Sunday, easing later. The chasing pack will have to hope it knocks everyone sideways and then see who can get up first.

Oosthuizen may have missed seven cuts in his previous eight majors, but that stat is irrelevant now - he hung onto his lead in impressive fashion on Saturday.

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"No-one was really expecting me to be up there," said the 27-year-old, a protege of Ernie Els who has also been in touch with Gary Player this week. "I mean, no-one can actually say my surname, so they don't know who I am out there. But it's great being up there and I want to enjoy everything about it.

"I'm really happy with myself, keeping my emotions intact."

But Casey is a player who can get on a streak and make up ground quickly. And if the building support as the crowd sensed he was on a charge on Saturday afternoon is anything to go by, the Englishman will have the galleries firmly behind him.

The trouble with streak players is they can disappear as quickly. Just ask Mark Calcavecchia, who was second behind Oosthuizen after round three and shot 77.

So does Casey, who has only had four top 10s in 29 majors, have the ability to translate his Saturday form into a resilient major championship-winning performance on Sunday?

"I know what this golf course can do," said Casey, who has only picked up two shots on the back nine all week and dropped three on the 17th on Friday.

"It can give you some great moments and it can give you some horrible ones. I'm going to go out there with a smile on my face and enjoy it."

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The 32-year-old's best major finish was tied sixth at the Masters in his first appearance in 2004 after going into the final round one shot off the lead. And Casey, who went to college in America and lives in Arizona, admits he always thought his best chance of a major would come at Augusta because of his high ball flight, rather than at the Open where he says he may have misplaced the art of links golf.

"It's in there," he said. "I know how to do it and I love doing it."

Of the other realistic challengers - Kaymer (-8), Stenson, Canizares and Westwood (all -7) - all have a chance of bagging a first major, while Johnson, also without a major, will be entrusted with trying to preserve America's formidable record of winning 11 of the last 15 Opens, and the last three at St Andrews.

Kaymer would be the first German major winner since Bernhard Langer won the Masters in 1993, Stenson the first ever male Swedish major champion, while Canizares would better his former Ryder Cup player father Jose Maria Canizares and become Spain's first major winner since Jose Maria Olazabal won the Masters in 1999. And of, course, Westwood would improve on his three top threes in the last four majors, including at Turnberry last year.

"I've made the mistake of chasing in majors before," said Westwood. "I got off to a bad start and then looked at it afterwards and realised I did not need to be that aggressive. As always I have a game plan and patience will be key.

"I've won from eight behind before, it can be done, we know that. Strange things have been happening this week."

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The curtain will soon be going up. Is there yet a twist in the tale?


  • Comment number 1.

    Come on Casey!!! I think the momentum is with him but Oosthuizen is playing really well and i think he will hold his nerve and claim the title

  • Comment number 2.

    Simply ridiculous. When was the last time these self proclaimed golf experts got any sort of prediction anywhere near right?

  • Comment number 3.

    Oosti seems like a nice guy, if he holds his nerve he should win.
    Does Lee Westwood seem a bit arrogant?its as if he thinks he should be eating at the top table, but no-one wants to invite him.

  • Comment number 4.

    I don't watch much gholf, but I'm South African and my heart today is with good old Louis Oosthuizen. If he keeps his nerve and a solid 63 today, he can take his trophy home to Mossel Bay, vuvuzela and all...

  • Comment number 5.

    The coverage of the Open has been ruined by the BBC turning it into the Tiger Woods golf Open. For some reason the BBC think that viewers want to watch Tigers every move even down to him spitting. Well I for one don't care what Tiger Woods is doing. The man is history and we have British players who are much more interesting to watch and are doing a lot better than Woods. Why are the BBC treating this man like a hero. He has screwed up and for the commentator to say that its what he does on the course that matters is ridiculous. In that case we should all have affairs and just go back to the wife and say its what I do at work that matters.
    Today will be a prime example. You have Fisher and Woods on the same score yet I bet you see a lot more of the American.Why?
    A British network. a British Open ,start giving the British players more support.

  • Comment number 6.

    There appears to be a considerable opinion that Oosthuizen will succumb to pressure, the chasing pack, his inexperience in this position, etc, etc. From what I've seen this week, I disagree, and a 4 shot lead is considerable. First, he hasn't given any true indication of the situation having "got" to him - yesterday he continued to play very solid and good scoring golf. Second,the so called "chasing pack" has not, the one exception being Goosen, got experience of winning a Major either. I believe it is most likely that Oosthuizen will win but if he doesn't, and I'm going here against views I've previously expressed, I believe that Westwood is the player most likely to prevail. For once, Westwood is not leading or in the first 3 and though quite close is quite a way off the main pace meaning that pressure that has cost him so dear so often is not upon him at the start of the final round. If Oosthuizen starts to falter, and Westwood is playing solidly and making a few birdies, he will have momentum and his determination and solid game may see him through to prevail. It is very different from his many sad losses when leading or near the front. So, in summary, Oosthuizen should win but if not, a golden chance for Westwood to come through and prevail. What a grand story that would be - carrying a serious injury and also the hopes of so many of his loyal countrymen. It should be a grippingly fascinating afternoon indeed.

  • Comment number 7.

    Agree with above comment, but unfortunately Mr Woods still represents box office,both on and off the golf course.
    Hopefully the potential new world star, the boy Rory, will shine today and offer a possible glimpse into the future

  • Comment number 8.

    What does Peter Alliss mean talking about the young british players Casey, Poulter, and Rose? They don't seem that young to me. They have been around for a relatively long time in professional golf.

    I would already say McIlroy is a world star. He's won on both tours. Earned millions of pounds. And been in the Top 10 OWGR. He has the potential to be a superstar (world number 1 for >6 months and multiple major winner).

    I was not a fan of Andrew Cotter up until the last couple of months. Primarily a rugby commentator he and his good pal Andy Nicol would be able to ruin any game involving Scotland with persistent moaning. However he has been much better, and enjoyable to listen too commentating on the golf. I know he plays to a decent standard, (like most Scottish sportsmen) and the niggling agro between him and Mark James was a breath of fresh air on the red button on friday evening. More of the same please.

    For me I think Oosthuizen will be able to hang on. He's got his head on his shoulders, won before this year, and a comfortable lead. His steady putting should see him through even if he finds a bush or an OOB.

  • Comment number 9.

    My heart says Casey, Westwood or McIlroy but my head says Oosthuizen. The weather will probably decide it and it looks as if it will be mild - so that the present order may not change dramatically. But who knows? That's what makes golf so gripping!

  • Comment number 10.

    As a South African, I hope Louis Oosthuizen keeps mentally tough and takes it... he has had a super year so far and its all paying off now. But if anyone is going to catch him, its Paul Casey. The guy is just such a solid player and a top bloke as well! Looking forward to it.

  • Comment number 11.

    I agree it is tiresome how much emphasis is put on Tiger Woods at every single golfing major. However he is not "finished" as someone above commented. He is an incredible talent and competitor and will be around for another 20+ years winning tournaments.

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm pleased that other contributors see fit to complain about the TV coverage as well. I'm fed up listeing to Allis (too old) Cotter, Grady etc. mumbling on and on. It was like a breath of fresh air when the American guy (Nantz?) took over and actually spoke up and clarly identified each golfer.
    Was Allis on the 'sherbet' towards the end of last night's coverage? He sounded like a frustrated old man as he was going on and on about Hazel Irvine with comments like: 'We really know what went on in that room, yes we do really know what went on that room, they said they were studying but we know what went on in that room.' It was highly embarrassing to listen to.

    Then Allis totally reduced the quality of the coverage by repeating over and over, as Calcavecchia was about to putt on the 18th:' C'mon Calcee get it in, c'mon Calcee put it away....'
    Does he nothing more to offer, everyday, than: 'It's been a great day of golf, the weather's been kind'. His voice is getting more and more gutterall and difficult to listen to. His comments about the disabled person on the first day were outrageous and no apology will make up for what he said.

    Then there is the Frenchman Van de Velde whispering away in his accent, and you can't understand a word he is saying.

    We do not want to see images of Woods practising when other golfers are actually playing their round. Why do the BBC think we want to see Woods tapping balls into a hole on the practise course?

  • Comment number 13.

    We can shut the sound off but cannot alter the filmed footage unfortunately.
    I get the American coverage and its really boring as they play up the American players who are not doing well.
    They actually panned away with cameras while Rory was about to putt on 17th first round to break the course record possibly and had to pan back later
    Coverage is generally poor all around really. yet the event is truly dramatic with some great shots and tense drama,

  • Comment number 14.

    Every broadcast/broadcaster have their faults, but compared to US broadcasts with interminable advert breaks & childish commentary the Beeb comes out quite well. P Allis & Wayne Grady are 2 highly knowledgeable
    commentators...after all, P.A was taught by the best, Henry Longhurst who could often say more by saying nothing, than others could say in a whole paragraph., it will be a great loss when P.A hangs up his mike..!

    This Open for me will ever be remembered by the report that Cink, last years "winner" used the Claret Jug to baste food on the barbeque ...only one word comes to mind...PHILISTINE....! He apparently found after "cleaning it" that some of the "goo" oozed out and stained the packaging.
    What an insult...I would hope that in future the R & A will retain the jug and only allow winners to take away a replica.....Jak

    PS. What a pity that Watson did not claim his "sixth" win...

  • Comment number 15.

    Jak, don't worry it was a one of the (if I understood the BBC coverage correctly 4) replicas. To keep you focussed on something positive whilst watching - what was unique about Ballesteros Open wins which will never be repeated ? Ian


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