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The Friday execution at the British Open

​​As the British Open reached its halfway stage, the 156-man field was reduced to the top 70 and ties.

ET Bureau|
Jul 20, 2019, 08.12 AM IST
Tiger Woods is among the big names who failed to make the cut at the British Open on Friday
Anand Datla

Golf conducts a mass execution on Friday, reducing its field into two halves with a knife that slices into the wallets of players. It is a painful process, the cut, leaving nearly half the field smarting from the wounds and counting their bills.

As the British Open reached its halfway stage, the 156-man field was reduced to the top 70 and ties. Roughly half of the field would return home with change that will not even cover the cost of their meals, let alone travel, stay and ever-increasing support teams.

Shubhankar Sharma has traveled to five major tournaments including this one. While he has endured pain at the other three events – the Masters, PGA Championship and US Open – the young man is assured of a second weekend in as many appearances at the British Open. Despite some despondent struggles on the mindlessly undulating greens at the Royal Portrush Golf Club, Shubhankar shot a dogged 72 to enter the weekend at even par through 36 holes.

On the right side of the knife – JB Holmes, played some persistently good golf to shoot three-under 68 and sits in the clubhouse halfway through Friday at 8-under 134. Shane Lowry gave him pursuit, firing three straight birdies at the start of his round to tie him for the lead, with two thirds of the round available to layer his card. As he made the turn, he had a onestroke advantage over Holmes.

Tommy Fleetwood, still hunting for major glory, underlined his credentials with a 67, -7, T3 with Lee Westwood, who was turning the clock back with four birdies off his last seven holes. They will both enter the weekend with bright eyed hope.

Several of their colleagues though need travel arrangements, departing into the dark night with sore limbs and torn pockets. On an average, it costs a professional anywhere from $2,500 to $20,000 just to get in and out of a tournament depending on their mode of travel and size of team.

It could cost significantly more for the top stars who do five-star dugouts, floating in on private jets. It is estimated that even the simplest of professional golfers need in excess of $2,00,000 to sustain a card on the top tours such as the PGA TOUR or European Tour.

In order to cover costs and make a healthy living, it becomes essential to play the weekends. Most tournaments do not pay a penny to the golfers that do not survive the cut. The major tournaments pay some money to everyone that enters the tournament, as does the British Open. That should help mitigate expenses in most cases, at least for the lower ranked professionals. But it is the wounds that take significant healing.

Missing the cut is a bummer for a player’s confidence and often takes a good session with the coach to heal the physical wounds and some work with the psychologist to soothe the mind. All of that means increased maintenance costs. Elite coaches typically charge a few hundred dollars per hour of consultation and a good shrink to interfere with their effort to make a living.

Their scorecards at the end of the second round — Poulter, with a 76, didn’t make the cut — reflected not just their golf, but the results of another examination of character, just the latest in a weekly test that is an integral part of being an elite athlete.

There are no silver jugs on offer for these warriors dancing on the edge of the knife. Just their pride and the satisfaction of a battle won under duress. The winners go on to battle for a place in the middle of the table. The losers are left licking their wounds with only their family for company. And preparing for another week on the road looking for some redemption, perhaps even glory.

Also Read

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Golf-British Open scores

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Golf-Latest British Open leaderboard

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