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British Open: A Test of Golf Skills... And a Beatles Pop Quiz
July 19, 2014  | By Gerald Jordan  | 1 comment

It’s half past The Open Championship and dramatic tales abound: Cinderfellas, Les Miserables, Aesop’s Fables and many others.

John Singleton (left), after his fairytale appearance in golf’s self-proclaimed greatest competition, will return to the routine of his day job at Advanced Electrical Varnishes. And when he does, it’s a good bet that the forklift he steers will have a bumper sticker that reads “I’d Rather Be Driving a Titleist.” The Liverpool factory worker lived for two rounds the Everyman Dream: he played in The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. His opening-round 78 (six over par) dampened his spirit, but his two under round Friday almost spared him from the weekend cut. (The final cut number: two over par.)

“The greatest feeling ever,” he told ESPN of his walk to the 18th green Thursday.

The Open and familiar competitors looked terrific Thursday. Conditions allowed a field of the best golfers in the world to share Singleton’s greatest feeling. Several of the best squirreled away low numbers, taking advantage of a beautiful day that turned breezy and difficult Friday. Weather forecasters say the weekend will be worse, though early-morning conditions for Saturday's round improved dramatically after the opening hour.

Tiger Woods' first-round 69 left fans’ hearts aflutter over the possibility of the Tiger of old. On Friday, the Tiger of more recent old did show – the one who couldn’t find a fairway to save his round. His “terrible start,” by Woods’ own account and “not so good” round left him seated precariously on the cut line, needing an 18th-hole birdie to play on the weekend. He got it.

Rory McIlroy exorcised the demons that recently have played his second rounds, and ran off a string of birdies that will ensure the weekend cameras will be on McIlroy. His four-shot lead over Dustin Johnson and six-shot lead over six others give McIlroy a comfortable margin in anticipation of a rough-weather weekend. After an hour of Saturday morning play, McIlroy led the field with 11 under par.

If rain forces delays, I hope that ESPN treats audiences to more Beatles vignettes and tour pro pop quizzes as the sports network did Thursday. By far the funniest feature required the pros to name the Beatles. Even a couple of the Brits choked. Ian Poulter clutched over several takes until he completed the task by naming George Harrison. Briton Lee Westwood calmly named the Fab Four. American Bubba Watson didn’t even venture a guess at their names, but rattled off the instruments they played. Northern Irelander McIlroy (right), at 25 a youngster in any environ, couldn’t pass the test. He offered George Lucas as a Beatle.

Best ad lib, though, goes to Peter Alliss, the BBC announcer whose experienced vocal tones convey golf history. Alliss was visiting at the ESPN anchor desk while the Beatles’ quiz ran. He allowed as how generation gaps might lead youngsters to be unaware of notable artists, but it got his goat when Alliss recalled how his housekeeper asked about a recording he was enjoying. It was Sammy Davis Jr. When the youngster asked Alliss “Who’s Sammy Davis Jr.,” he said “I could have choked her.” No real violence conveyed; just generation-gap frustration writ large.

Day One was a fun day. Day Two showed how difficult links golf can be.

John Singleton’s coworkers at Advanced Electrical Varnishes got Thursday off to watch him play. Singleton had hoped to make the cut so that his finish would encourage a sponsor. He’s a man grateful for his day job, but eager to quit it.

And now, Day Three...

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