Six things we learned from the second round
As the third round gets underway at Royal Birkdale, here’s what we learned from Friday at The Open.
All or nothing with the rain at Royal Birkdale
Play was briefly stopped on Friday evening as a truly biblical amount of rain hit the Royal Birkdale links.
It was just to let the greenkeepers tend to the few patches of water gathering on the course, but throughout the day the players (and mainly caddies!) were wrestling with getting the wet-weather gear on and off.
But apparently there is no such thing as drizzle in Southport, as it was all or nothing when it came to the rain.
And once it halted, leader Jordan Spieth was able to hammer home his advantage in the then tranquil conditions with crucial birdies on the 11th and 12th – and even after it started bucketing down again, his eagle at the 15th put the icing on one of the performances of the day.
It’s not impossible when the weather rolls in
As predicted, conditions at Royal Birkdale made life more difficult for the competitors on Friday, but Zach Johnson and Rory McIlroy showed how to tackle the elements.
Johnson, Champion Golfer of the Year in 2015 at St Andrews, was in inspired form and fired a four under par 66 that was comfortably the best round of the day.
To only post one bogey was a truly heroic effort in Friday’s windiest conditions, and McIlroy’s remarkable turnaround in fortunes continued with a 68 to climb into the top ten.
You need to eat your Weetabix to get out of the rough
These pro golfers are deceptively strong, and all the time spent in the gym these days certainly has been paying off.
Throughout the practice rounds and opening 18 holes, the players have been showing off their bulging biceps to rescue wayward drives from the thick rough.
But on Friday the grass got wet, and it was a totally different ballgame as poor Justin Thomas found out.
He was dressed in camouflage but there was no hiding for the American as he could not hack his ball out of the rough on the 6th hole, with his club going flying out of his hands instead.
Thomas had to take an unplayable and ended up with a scorecard-destroying quintuple-bogey nine.
O’Meara can still show them how it’s done
After an 81 on Thursday, Mark O’Meara knew his days at The 146th Open were probably numbered, but that did not stop him from going out with a flourish.
It was not only his final round in this year’s championship for the former Champion Golfer, who claimed the Claret Jug here at Royal Birkdale in 1998, but his last 18 holes ever in The Open with 2017’s set to be his last.
But while those ahead of him fell by the wayside in treacherous conditions, O’Meara rolled back the years to shoot a level-par 70 – showing once again that when it comes to links golf, experience is always best.
Sometimes it pays to get angry
We’ve all been there. Sergio Garcia completely mishit a chip from the rough close to the 4th green, and came up way short, and took his frustrations out on the nearest bush.
And while he was left grimacing and clutching his shoulder, the fired-up Spaniard refused to give in and battled through the rest of his round with the help of a physio.
Moreover, on the very next hole – presumably with his blood still boiling – the Masters champion decided to take the short-cut and lashed the drive of the day right at the heart of the 5th green.
The result? He rolled off the back but slammed in a putt for eagle from there which helped turn an indifferent start around.
The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree
Ian Poulter’s enjoying more than his fair share of skirmishes with the Americans in the Ryder Cup, and is set up for another grandstand encounter this weekend as he sits in a tie for third surrounded by those form across the pond. And it seems Poulter’s 13-year-old son, Luke, is already fist pumping away in the name of those this side of the Atlantic – he beat none other than John Daly’s son in a grudge match (of sorts) on Thursday evening.
He said: “He played eight holes and managed to win his little match, so he came home pumped. It's been amazing having him here for three weeks; he's excitable and it makes it even more special.
“One was very upset when he came back in the house, and that was ‘Little John’. He also lost 20 quid – one down after eight. Apparently, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, on both sides.”