Phil Mickelson stays clear of the chasing pack

Phil Mickelson held onto his lead over the rest of The Open field. On the second day he reached the turn at Royal Troon in three under par to move to 11-under-par for the Championships but a tougher test down the back nine saw him drop back to 10-under.

Phil Mickelson celebrates a birdie on the 17th at Royal Troon.  Picture: Jan Kruger/R&A/R&A via Getty Images
Phil Mickelson celebrates a birdie on the 17th at Royal Troon. Picture: Jan Kruger/R&A/R&A via Getty Images

It still gives him a one stroke lead over Swede Henrik Stenson, who carded a six-under-par round for today, while other contenders gear up to tackle their second 18 holes.

The American teed off on at 8.25am and with the weather forecasters predicting worsening conditions throughout the second day, the overnight leader managed to get through the first eight holes before the heavens opened and the wind began to pick up.

Pars on the first three par 4s had allowed the 46-year-old to consolidate his position before he birdied the par 5 fourth, the par 4 seventh and then produced a beautiful opening shot on the famous Postage Stamp eighth hole, almost finding the cup from the tee. He tapped in his second to pick up another stroke.

By that stage, despite the dark clouds overhead and the sense of foreboding, the man who conquered Muirfield to pick up his first Claret jug three years ago, had stripped off his jacket, the muggy air warming him the way he was turning up the heat on all his challengers.

But as the rain began to fall at the Postage Stamp, the umbrellas and the gloves came out as he met the elements head on.

The left handed five time major winner had to hole a six foot putt on the ninth to save par but found the perfect pace to hole out and make the turn in 33, at that point five ahead of the chasing pack.

But having been blemish-free for the first round and a half, he succumbed to the increasingly-boisterous and sodden weather conditions at the 12th, carding his first bogey of the week. Heading into the rough on the right before finding the crowd with his recovery shot, he zig-zagged down the fairway. Having marked his ball on the green, there was an issue with the ball moving as he tried to remove the marker. Eventually able to settle over the ball, he couldn’t find the target.

He succeeded in pulling that shot back on the 14th with yet another birdie but, looking less buoyant than ever as the rain dripped off the skip of his cap, he dropped another shot on the par-4 15th.

Traipsing up the 18th he looked a lot less enamoured with his day than he had on Thursday and that mood was not helped when his birdie opportunity, in front of the main grandstands, failed to find the right d

istance, leaving him frustrated but still leading.