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TALENTED GOLFERS TAKE EARLY EXITS AT BRITISH OPEN

SHARE TALENTED GOLFERS TAKE EARLY EXITS AT BRITISH OPEN

Mark Calcavecchia, Seve Ballesteros, Tom Watson and Tom Kite. Scott Hoch, Bob Tway, Curtis Strange and Lanny Wadkins. Throw in Arnold Palmer and Gary Player for sentimental reasons.

Not a bad bunch of golfers to contest the final two rounds of a major tournament. But when the scoring is as low as it's been so far in the British Open, it's just a bunch of also-rans.Calcavecchia, the defending champion, Watson, a five-time winner, and Palmer, playing his 22nd and last Open, were victims Friday of the lowest two-round cut in the 119 editions of golf's oldest tournament.

It took a 1-under-par 143 or better to make it to the final two rounds after a gang of big hitters led by Greg Norman and Nick Faldo pummeled the Old Course.

The figure shaved three strokes off the record for the championships, set last year at Royal Troon. Eighty golfers qualified then; 72 - just like par - made it at St. Andrews, and the cut was deep and quick. Ten more players, including Kite and Palmer, shot even par for the first 36 holes.

With a second-round 75 and a 36-hole total of 146, Calcavecchia became the first Open titlist since Watson in 1976 to miss the cut in defense of the championship. The American had his chances but blew them with four bogeys and a double-bogey on the back nine.

"It's a painful experience," Calcavecchia said. "I had such high expectations. I expect a lot from myself, but I never expected this."

Like Calcavecchia, Ballesteros started the day in good shape at 1-under par 71 and birdied the second hole. But he had a double bogey and four bogeys on the back nine, matching bogey-5s with Watson at the 17th, the Road Hole, where their duel for the championship in 1984 came to a head. The Spaniard, a three-time Open winner, finished at 145.

Watson, even par to start the day, also finished at 145, 1-over, with bogeys at the 11th, 16th and 17th, all three-putt greens.

"I three-putted myself to death," he said.

Kite, the leading money-winner of the 1980's on the American tour, shot an even-par score of 144 with rounds of 71 and 73. Hoch, who lost to Faldo in the 1989 Masters, was at 147 after a 76, missing it with a quintuple-bogey 9 on the Road Hole. He drove out of bounds, lay 3 in the rough, went from there into a bunker, wedged just short of the Road Bunker, then chipped onto the green and three-putted.

Tway, the 1988 PGA champion, had two rounds of 73 for 146; Strange, winner of the 1988 and 1989 U.S. Opens, was 74-71 for 145; and Wadkins, a former PGA champ, had a 145 after a 74.

Palmer, playing his last British Open on the historic course where he played his first 30 years ago, shot 73 and 71, more than respectable for a 60-year-old but not good enough when the others are scoring like they have been at St. Andrews.

"This is as good as I have played this year," Palmer said.

Player, a three-time Open champion, partnered Palmer and shot 72-73 for 145.

The worst score for the two rounds was a relatively low 153, shared by four players - Ricardo A. Gonzalez of Argentina, Craig Stadler of the United States, Rodger Davis of Australia and Paul Lyons of Britain.