Bad weather dominated the second round of the 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon yesterday as the later starters were given a torrid time by heavy rain and high winds, leading the cut to rise from a projected one-over par to four-over.
That was enough to save world No 3 Jordan Spieth, Masters champion Danny Willett and the Scottish pair of Colin Montgomerie and 1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie, all of whom squeaked in to play the rest of the weekend after posting four-over totals of 146.
Phil Mickelson remains the frontrunner after he followed up Thursday’s stunning 63 in the glorious sunshine with a solid 69 to move to ten-under par, but he leads by just a single stroke heading into today’s third round, with Swede Henrik Stenson shooting a superb 65 to move second on nine under.
Both the American, who came within a whisker of getting a hole in one at the Postage Stamp, and the Swede endured the rain but certainly benefited from more benign conditions than what was to come later in the afternoon and evening.
World No 3 Spieth said it was the worst weather in which he has played tournament golf. “What we had on the 16th tee was [the worst of all],” he said. “When I looked up you could see sheets of water moving sideways.
“Man, if I’ve played in that it’s been over here on a practice round maybe. I can’t remember anything that significant. I can’t remember seeing the wind move a ball that much.”
Spieth, who had double bogeys at the sixth and the Postage Stamp, said he was proud of covering the treacherous back nine in level par and was aware that four-over would probably be good enough to make the cut as he reached the home stretch.
“I was told by [caddie] Michael [Greller] ‘four is in, you don’t have to do too much on [the par 5] 16th’,” is what he told me.
“I just tried to smile, tried to enjoy the fact that you don’t play in this event often. You wish your score didn’t matter when you play in this [type of weather]. You wish this was just a round with your buddies where you go into the clubhouse and have one or seven pints afterwards.”
Asked whether it would be one or seven tonight, the two-time major winner said with a smile: “I think I’ll tee off early so somewhere inbetween. That’s if I do make the cut. If I don’t, you know the answer.”
Montgomerie, meanwhile, thought he was well gone when he finished his round in the late afternoon, a bogey at the 18th condemning him to a 75.
After being full of the joys the previous day, it was a downcast Monty who briefly spoke to the press afterwards.
“It’s a shame really,” he said following a round which came apart on the inward half after nine straight pars to start. “I feel I have been done in by the weather. I needed some help and didn’t get it.”
However, unbeknown to him at the time, help was indeed on its way and the 53-year-old will be back to achieve his pre-tournament objective of walking down the 18th fairway on Sunday.
Some of the big names to head home early, though, included former champions Ernie Els (five over) and Louis Oosthuizen, who slumped from a level-par 71 on day one that included an ace at the 14th, to a miserable 12-over 83 yesterday.
All three of the Americans who won the most recent stagings of the Open at Royal Troon – Todd Hamilton, Justin Leonard and Mark Calcavecchia – bowed out on six over.
Russell Knox is the leading Scot, on level par. He is tied for 27th, after a round of 70 yesterday to add to his opening 72.