Second Round

Second Round

Holmes, whose best result in a major was third place at the 2016 Open when the American beat everyone else left trailing in the wake of Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson, added a 68 on Friday to maintain his lead for much of the day. Birdies at the 12th and 13th holes had got him to nine under par but he dropped a shot at the 14th.

That left Fleetwood and Westwood only one behind after both Englishmen scored 67s with four birdies in the last seven holes. Westwood, on his 25th appearance, equaled his lowest Open score with the help of girlfriend Helen Storey on the bag. Fleetwood suffered his first two bogeys of the week but was happy enough. “That’s two days in a row I’ve hit the ball really well and putted well,” he said. Justin Rose was a stroke behind, alongside Cameron Smith and Justin Harding.

Lowry, playing later in the day, had some catching up to do. It did not take long. He birdied the first three holes, as well as the fifth, where he almost chipped in for eagle. Another birdie at the eighth took him out in a best-of-the-day 31, while his sixth of the day at the 10th hole had Lowry at 10 under par and leading by two strokes. The atmosphere by now was highly charged, the cheers getting louder as each putt was holed. “Incredible,” Lowry said. “You can but laugh. There’s no point shying away from it.”

Perhaps it startled the Clara man a bit, however, as he dropped two shots in the last seven holes, caused by a three-putt at the 14th and a “duffed” approach at the last that came up short. “There is not too many days like that on the golf course,” he reflected after a 67 that tied Holmes at the top of the leaderboard. “I’m in a great position but, my God, we have got a long way to go.”

The crowd was not sated for the day as now they got behind McIlroy, whose late-night charge to make the cut produced the sort of drama usually reserved for an Open Sunday. He had started at eight over par, went out in two under but was still short of the cut line at one over par. Already Clarke had missed out with a triple bogey at the last hole, while Woods added a 70 to miss his second major cut of the year.

Willed on by the fans, McIlroy birdied the 10th from 10 feet, the 11th from two feet and the 12th with a four. The wild scenes were deflated momentarily when he bogeyed the short 13th, but at the 14th he holed from 12 feet to get back to three over par. He got up and down from a bunker at the 15th before a sublime tee shot at the 16th to 10 feet brought a two, three shots better than the calamity the day before. By now the crowd was sucking his ball into the hole. Pars at the last two holes, however, left the 2014 Champion Golfer one short of staying for the weekend at his home Open.

“Today was one of the most fun rounds of golf I’ve ever played,” McIlroy said. His 65 matched the lowest of the championship so far by Harding, Xander Schauffele and Kevin Streelman. “It’s strange to say that about battling to make the cut, but I can leave with my head held high. I wanted to be here for the weekend. Selfishly, I wanted to feel that support for two more days.”

Second-round leaders: J.B. Holmes 68–134, Shane Lowry 67–134, Tommy Fleetwood 67–135, Lee Westwood 67–135, Cameron Smith 66–136, Justin Harding 65–136, Justin Rose 67–136.


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