Johnson Sets Pace as Watson Bows Out
American Dustin Johnson held a one shot lead as darkness fell on a weather-interrupted second day at The 144TH Open Championship at St Andrews.
Johnson, runner-up to Jordan Spieth at last month’s US Open at Chambers Bay, started the second round at seven-under-par after an opening 65 and he had moved to ten-under before bad light stopped play after he had putted out on the 13TH green.
The American’s nearest rival is 27 year-old Englishman, Danny Willett, from Sheffield, who is the leader in the clubhouse on nine-under-par 135. He added a 69 to his opening 66 to give him a one shot lead over Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, who was eight-under through 30 holes, Jason Day, also eight-under through 29 holes and a two shot advantage over Scotland’s Marc Warren, American Zach Johnson and Australian Adam Scott who all completed the second round with seven-under par totals of 137. South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, the last man to claim the title at St Andrews back in 2010, was also at seven-under with seven holes in his second round left to go.
The race for the Silver Medal, awarded to the leading amateur who plays all four rounds, looks likely to go all the way to the wire. Irish Walker Cup hopeful, Paul Dunne, from Greystones, leads the way on six-under-par after posting two rounds of 69 but that leaves him only two shots ahead of American, Jordan Niebrugge, who is four-under-par after 36 holes and reigning Amateur champion, Romain Langasque, who is on the same mark with five holes to play in the morning . Double European Amateur champion, Ashley Chesters, and a second American, Oliver Schniederjans, are also in the mix having both finished their second rounds on one-under-par while Chesters’ English international colleague, Paul Kinnear, might make it a six-way contest, standing at level-par with 10 holes left to play in the morning.
“Today was really enjoyable,” said Dunne. “It will be a new experience for me tomorrow and I’m not sure how I will handle it. Hopefully, I just take to it like second nature, but you never know.”
Late in the evening, just before 10 o’clock and as the last of the daylight was rapidly disappearing, veteran 65 year-old five-time champion, Tom Watson made a strangely subdued exit from the Championship. Thanks to the late hour, there were far fewer spectators around the amphitheatre surrounding the 18TH hole than was anticipated, but the American still received a rousing reception as he brought the curtain down what was a glorious Open career stretching all the way back to 1975.
“Man, that finish was ugly,” Watson said as he appeared to mass applause in the media centre half an hour after he finished. “The last thing I wanted was to finish with a shank.
“The fans out there were so appreciative and their applause made me feel very humble,” he added. “I said to my son, Michael, on the 18th tee that there should be no tears, it should be all about joy, and that’s the way I will remember my years coming here.”
Tiger Woods is another former champion who looks likely to miss the cut. He was languishing well down the leaderboard at five-over-par through 11 holes of his second round and seemed destined to go home early for just the second time in 19 appearances. The other only other time he missed the cut was at Turnberry back in 2009.
Other former Open championship likely to miss out on playing over the weekend include John Daly (+1), Sandy Lyle (+3), Tom Lehman (+4), Justin Leonard (+6), Todd Hamilton (+7), Sir Nick Faldo (+10) and Mark Calcavecchia (+11). However, Faldo did have the consolation carding a birdie three on the 17TH hole on his way to shooting a one-under-par 71 in his second round.
“I’ve had a roller-coaster day,” admitted the Englishman, who celebrates his 58TH birthday tomorrow. “This morning a cut on my hand opened again and I had to go back to hospital to get it glued. At one point, I didn’t think I’d be playing, so to shoot 71 isn’t bad.
“To score a three at 17 was unbelievable,” he added. “I think I’ve only done that once before, in the last round 10 years ago.”
Johnson is one of 42 players left to complete their second rounds in the morning. Play is scheduled to resume at 7.00 am.