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Rory McIlroy raced into a four-shot overnight lead, posting birdies at 17 and 18 to leave him -12 going into the third round night, but it could have been more if it wasn’t for birdies at the same holes by Dustin Johnson.
The big-hitting American broke out of the pack and carded -8 to leave behind Francesco Molinari, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Ryan Moore, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel on -6.
Tiger Woods and Luke Donald made the cut in dramatic style, both requiring birdies on the last, but there was no such luck for Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, who both finished three-over-par.
Rory McIlroy played some majestic golf as he raced to the turn in two under par during the second round of The Open Championship at Hoylake.
The first round leader dropped a shot after going through the back of the 1st green but then carded birdies at the 5th, 6th and 8th to dispel any thoughts that that he might repeat the poor performances he has produced at a string of major event this season.
McIlroy headed to the 10th tee two shots ahead of Sergio Garcia and Francesco Molinari and three in front of George Coetzee, Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler.
Phil Mickelson got himself back to even par with a birdie on the last after a stuttering back nine which saw a number of missed putts. After his birdie-eagle at 4 and 5, the reigning Open Champion failed to pick up another shot until the last.
Justin Rose also struggled with the putter but after chipping in for a birdie and an eagle at 9 and 10, he is well placed on -2. His playing partner, Adam Scott rescued a poor round with birdies on 17 and 18 to card a round of 73, two behind clubhouse leader George Coetzee.
Lee Westwood, who led after the third round at Muirfield last year, was left to rue missed birdie opportunities, and his round of 76 may not be enough to make the weekend, with the cut line currently expected to be +2.
As the cut line looked set to be drawn at +2 a number of players made their move. Jason Day and Zach Johnson birdied the last while Martin Kaymer birdied 16 and 18 to move to +2, +2 and +1 respectively.
The course has remained fairly dry but windy, preventing too many low scores. George Coetzee, DA Points, Gary Woodland and Brendon De Jonge were the only four players of the first 38 in the clubhouse to post sub-72 scores.
Scotland’s Jamie McLeary got the second round of the 143rd Open Championship underway at 6:25am in more testing conditions than David Howell was granted on Thursday morning. His playing partner, Hiroshi Iwata, double bogeyed the final two holes to drop to +3 after playing the first 11 holes in one-under-par.
Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey was forced to withdraw with a foot injury after seven holes leaving Charley Hoffman and George Coetzee to complete their round without the 2001 British Amateur Champion.
The South African Coetzee was five-under-par for his round through 15 after an excellent back nine, but bogeys on 16 and 17 cost him his share of the lead before a birdie on the last left him one behind Rory McIlroy.