Harris English has seen the peaks and valleys of golf, going from being a two-time winner to falling out of the top 300 in the world, and returning to being a two-time winner this year.
Through it all, he could count on four days at the majors.
English had made the cut in 13 consecutive majors he played, dating to the 2014 PGA Championship, the second-longest active streak behind Louis Oosthuizen. And it was a streak in serious jeopardy when he opened with a 75 in the British Open.
Even with the lowest cut in British Open history (141), English made it to the weekend. He rallied with a 65 on Friday. With a birdie on the final hole, he made it with one to spare.
”I don’t like missing cuts and I especially don’t like missing cuts at the Open,” English said. ”This is one my favorite tournaments, and lucky to get on the right side of draw. It was nice this afternoon. The wind was laying down.
”So I’m happy with the way I played, the way I hung in there.”
Former Masters champion Patrick Reed wasn’t so fortunate. Neither was Patrick Cantlay, the No. 7 player in the world who has two PGA Tour victories this season but has been largely absent in the majors even when he does make the cut.
Reed (No. 9), Cantlay and Tyrrell Hatton (10) were the only players from the top 30 to miss the 36-hole cut. That list doesn’t include those who aren’t playing, or Will Zalatoris, who opened with a 69 and had to withdraw before the second round with a back injury.
For English, it’s a matter of what he can do for the next 36 holes. He is No. 8 in the Ryder Cup standings, with the top six earning automatic spots. One spot ahead of him is Reed. One spot behind him is Cantlay. This was a good cut to make.
For all the questions Jon Rahm gets about his emotions, no other player is developing a reputation for his temper like Tyrrell Hatton of England.
He was in fine form Friday.
Hatton could be heard on the broadcast swearing after a double bogey on 11th hole. On another hole, television caught him extending his middle finger toward someone in the gallery.
Needing birdie to have any chance of making the cut, Hatton sent his shot right of the green, and then promptly bent the club over his knee until it snapped. He handed both pieces to his caddie. He made par and missed the cut by one shot.
”That was a load of frustration built up,” Hatton told The Guardian. ”This is a tough one to take. I knew I needed to hit that shot in close. It’s massively disappointing. I just can’t bring my game at the Open.”
That wasn’t the only broken club. Marc Leishman wasn’t having his best Open, particularly on the greens, and at one point broke his putter. He had to use a wedge for his putts the rest of the way. Leishman birdied the last two holes for a 67 and missed the cut by one shot.
For the first time since 2015, the British Open will feature a battle to be the low amateur.
Matthias Schmid of Germany, who played his college golf at Louisville, tied the Open record for low score by an amateur with a 65. It was last set at Royal St. George’s in 2011 by Tom Lewis. That moved Schmid to 1-under 139 in a tie for 40th.
Schmid qualified by winning the European Amateur, a title he now has won twice.
Yuxin Lin of China, who qualified by winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur in 2019, made par on his last three holes for a 72 to make the cut on the number at 1-over 141.
Sam Locke at Carnoustie in 2018 was the last amateur to make the cut in the British Open. It was at St. Andrews in 2015 when five amateurs made the cut.
Jonathan Thomson earned a peculiar slice of history Friday – the biggest man to ever make a hole-in-one. The Englishman stands at 6-foot-9, and he delivered a superb shot that carried a mount, checked slightly and rolled into the cup.
”It’s just phenomenal, to be honest,” Thomson said. ”Like the roar, the shot, everything about that hole, it’s indescribable, really. It sort of was a real booster because I was grinding out there as well, to be fair. It wasn’t easy. I was playing good. I just couldn’t seem to get anything going properly. Then that happened and it was like … that’s just awesome.”
Better yet, he gets two more days.
Thomson made his Open debut with a bogey-double-bogey start – 4 over through three holes. He shot 32 on the back nine to salvage a 71, and his ace on Friday was followed by a birdie. He shot a 67 and was tied for 31st at 2-under 138.
SOUTH AFRICA RISING
South Africa had 13 players in the field as the country is going through a quiet resurgence in the world of golf. Four of them can be found in the top 10 going into the weekend at Royal St. George’s, and another (Dean Burmester) is in the top 25.
It starts with Louis Oosthuizen, who has a two-shot lead after his record score. Dylan Frittelli was four shots behind in a tie for fourth with Dustin Johnson and Scottie Scheffler, a fellow Texas Longhorn. Daniel Van Tonder and Justin Harding were another shot back.
Among the six who missed the cut were Branden Grace and Garrick Higgo, both of whom have won on the PGA Tour this year.
”’South African golf is in a really strong position,” Burmester said. ”Guys have been playing well for pretty much the whole year, quite a lot of wins on the European Tour and guys riding their way through the Challenge Tour back home are playing really well. I think South African golf in general is just on a hot streak. And long may it last, really.”