Patience is a virtue and Rory McIlroy had it in spades to keep himself right in the hunt for a second Claret Jug heading into the weekend.
He shot 69 on both Thursday and Friday to be sitting pretty at four-under but if his first round was predicated on aggressive, high-stakes golf, then round two featured him picking his moments in the Carnoustie rain.
The soggy conditions and rapidly slowing fairways weren’t particularly conducive to low scoring but the 2014 Champion Golfer’s round still could have been even better – he was at -5 before bogeying 15 and missing a makeable birdie putt on the last.
Toughing it out
Regardless, he could well be in the top five of The Open heading into Saturday and was quietly pleased with the 69 he put together.
“Under those conditions, I would have taken that score going out,” said McIlroy.
“It wasn't that bad but it was just damp enough and cold enough that I just couldn’t do my gameplan of being aggressive and hitting driver a lot.
“A lot more irons off tees and I was a lot more conservative but it ended up being the same score. So I'm pretty pleased with that.
“It required a lot of patience. On a day like that, you just need to scramble and keep yourself in it.
“I feel like I played in the toughest of the conditions and had to sort of tough it out a little bit. I'm happy to be in with a shot.
“It was definitely a day where you’re trying not to shoot yourself out of the tournament instead of trying to press on and build a lead or get an advantage.”
Taking inspiration from Tommy
Tommy Fleetwood shot a brilliant 65 to move one stroke ahead of McIlroy on five-under and the Northern Irishman claims he’s in position to emulate his English rival over the weekend.
“I feel good.I hit a lot of really good iron shots, especially short and mid-irons, and I putted well,” added McIlroy.
“So that combination is hopefully going to do well over the weekend.
“I feel like there is low rounds in me. It has felt -- I don't want to say easy, but it's felt comfortable. “So if I can get on a run in the next couple of days, I don't see a ridiculously low score out there, but I definitely see something like what Tommy shot, a 66 or a 65. I think I'm capable of that.”
Best of the rest
In addition to the 65 from Fleetwood – which featured six birdies and no bogeys – the morning’s other standout round came from two-time major winner Zach Johnson.
The 2015 Champion Golfer’s iron play in particular was superb as he followed up an opening-round 69 with a 67 to take the clubhouse lead at six-under for the championship.
Johnson actually bogeyed the first hole but then made three front-nine birdies and two on the back nine to put himself well in the frame for a second Claret Jug.