The leaderboard is packed so tight at the end of the second day of the 140th Open Championship that 18 players are within three strokes of the joint leaders, Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland and Lucas Glover, winner of the US Open in 2009. With the cut falling at three over par all qualifiers for the final two rounds are covered by only seven shots. There are 11 different nationalities among the leading 30 players.
Clarke added a second 68 in the best conditions of a sunny morning to set a four under par target for the rest of the field to chase. Only Glover, with a 70, was up to the task. Overnight leader Thomas Bjorn dropped three shots in a row from the second and fought hard to rebuild a score. His 72 pulled him down into a share of third place with Chad Campbell of America, 2010 USPGA champion Martin Kaymer and ever-popular Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez.
With wind and rain forecast for both Saturday and Sunday there could be wild swings in fortune over the next two days. That was certainly true today. The world number one player, Luke Donald dropped three shots in his opening four holes and four more at the finish for a 75 and an early ride home. He was joined by the man who closely trails him in the world rankings, Lee Westwood, who completed a round of 73 to miss by one.
Charl Schwartzel, the recent winner of the Masters shared the best round of the day, a 67, with Raphel Jacquelin of France, who had scored seven shots more in the first round, and with veteran former champion Tom Lehman.
Sergio Garcia waited patiently until the 13th for his first birdie of the day, then typically, two came along at once. He finished on level par for 36 holes, just four shots off the lead. And although there was an absence of Rory McIlroy magic for the second day running, he ground out a fighting 69 to finish alongside Garcia.
Tom Lewis, the amateur who shared the lead with Thomas Bjorn after the first round, needed nine shots more than his opening 65 but is still tied for 14th after posting a one under par total of 139. The 2009 Boys’ Amateur champion from Welwyn Garden City also holds a three shot lead in the race to win the Silver Medal, awarded to the leading amateur to play all 72 holes, after a 74 that would have been better but for dropping two shots over his closing two holes.
The young Englishman’s nearest rival in that particular contest is reigning US Amateur champion, Peter Uihlein, who put together two rounds of 71 to go into the third round on two over par 142.
The battle for the Silver Medal has come done to a two horse race because the new Amateur champion, Bryden Macpherson from Australia, narrowly missed out on making it through to the last 54-holes after adding a 73 to his opening 71 for a four over par total of 144, was one shot outside the qualification mark.
Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard, the reigning European Amateur, also went home after a second round 75 left him on 148, while English qualifier, Craig Hinton, propped up the field after an 87 saw him finish on 29 over par 169.
There were a large number of big names who joined Macpherson, Bjerregaard and Hinton on the wrong side of the cut line. They included double Open champion Padraig Harrington (73-71-144), World No. 2 Lee Westwood (71-73-144), Justin Leonard (70-74-144), Graeme McDowell (68-77-145), Matteo Manassero (73-72-145), World No. 1 Luke Donald (71-75-146), John Daly (72-74-146), Geoff Ogilvy (74-73-147), Ian Poulter (69-78-147), Bernhard Langer (75-73-148), Ernie Els (72-76-148), Sandy Lyle (73-76-149), Matt Kuchar (74-77-151), Ben Curtis, the 2003 Champion at Royal St George’s (77-74-151), Mark O’Meara (76-76-152), David Duval (78-77-155) and Todd Hamilton (77-79-156).
Earlier in the day, double US Open champion, Retief Goosen, was forced to withdraw before starting his second round suffering from a back injury.