How does this rank in the Open’s great up and downs?July 21, 2018
Chris Wood’s miraculous par save at the 18th at Carnoustie on day three was the best Steve Carroll has ever seen at The Open
Phil Morbey – Wobbly to you and me – stood in the middle of the fairway with his arms outstretched.
Even at the green, the marshalls weren’t quite sure as they stooped down to examine on exactly which side of the fence the ball had finished.
“It was pot luck really, wasn’t it?” said Chris Wood of his approach to the final hole at Carnoustie, a shot that was no more than a centimetre or two away from being outside the course boundary.
But if Wood was fortunate to still be in play, it was also where the fun really began.
Out of bounds runs all the way down the last hole but it’s not a straight whitewash and a few posts.
It’s a wire fence that has been claiming its share of casualties this week.
Dustin Johnson popped his ball the wrong side on Thursday – turning a difficult round into a bad one – and ended up flying home the next day.
Wood, who had been seven under at one point during his third round before dropping shots on 14 and 17, had still clawed his way into the upper echelons of the leaderboard.
He was in danger of seeing a promising round end in sickening circumstances.
His ball wasn’t next to a railing but that was as good as the lie got. Any attempt at a backswing was going to find a thick obstacle pretty quickly.
“It is what it is,” Wood calmly stated as Morbey asked if he fancied taking a drop and called in a referee in the vain hope of getting some relief.
“It was either a penalty shot or have a go with almost a snooker shot on the other side of the fence,” he said afterwards.
“I felt like I could get the ball maybe five yards in front of me and the fairways and fringes are so good, and so quick, that it’s just like playing on the green anyway.”
Taking a putter and de-lofting the club so the face was pointing into the ground, Wood took a stab at the ball and watched it run up just to edge of the putting surface.
Then, from 40-odd feet, he struck a tramliner straight into the heart of the hole for surely one of the most outrageous – and memorable – up and downs ever seen at an Open.
Wood explained: “Once I got it within a yard or two of the green I did fancy it because it’s a pretty easy read – double break, right to left and left to right at the end – but it was lovely to see it go in the middle.
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 21, 2018
“I felt like if I could just stub the putter with no loft into the ground it would top spin and maybe get a few extra yards.
“With any sort of iron, I would probably have to guarantee a strike a little bit more. I think I made the right the right move and, obviously, the second putt was a bonus.”
What a way to end a confidence boosting 66. How much difference it will make as far as the outcome is concerned remains to be seen.
But it’s a par save that won’t be forgotten for some time. Certainly in my mind, anyway.