TROON, Scotland – Less than 24 hours ago, the skies were bright and blue and Phil Mickelson stole the show with his Lip-out Seen 'Round the World.
Friday is a new day. The weather has deteriorated, but Mickelson, who teed off at 3:25 a.m. ET, (8:25 local) withstood the elements to shoot a two-under 69 to hold the lead with the afternoon wave about to begin. Mickelson did most of his scoring early in his round under relatively calm conditions, then hung on through the back nine as the wind and rain worsened.
Here's everything that happened Friday morning with Phil and his top pursuers while you were sleeping.
PHIL, PART II
Mickelson spent a few minutes knocking putts on the practice green, then bounded to the opening tee. The skies were slate gray, the wind was whipping and Phil striped an iron down the middle.
Example No. 4,547 of Phil doing things his own way: To keep your hat from blowing away in the wind, just add a binder clip:
Mickelson got up-and-down for par on 1 and dropped a 10-foot par-saver on 2. Then, surprisingly, the winds dropped, and a window opened for prime scoring. On the par-5 4th Mickelson took advantage, pouring in a six-footer for his first birdie of the day.
Mickelson stuffed his approach on 7 for another birdie to move to 10 under par, and then he came about two revolutions from acing the famed Postage Stamp, the par-3 8th. It was the best shot of the morning.
As Mickelson strode to the 9th, the rain started in earnest. He pulled out his all-weather gloves, producing what will forever be remembered as the first double-glove-and-hat-binder look in golf history. Phil buried a 6-foot par and turned in 33 (and with a bogey-free card for the first 27 holes).
At that point the rain came in sheets, the wind kicked up, and Mickelson had to hang on for Troon’s tough closing nine holes. Time for another Thrill Ride.
On 12, he hit iron off the tee but pulled it into the deep rough to set up his first bogey of the tournament. He bounced back by drilling a long birdie on the par-3 13th, but weakly pushed away a par putt on 15. Drenched, he knocked his tee shot on 17 into a greenside bunker, near the wall.
Mickelson handled the awkward shot beautifully to save a par. He closed with a no-stress par on the par-4 18th.
While Mickelson leads, a new crop of pursuers also emerged Friday morning, including the defending champ Zach Johnson. He jumpstarted his round by jarring a little bump and run off the bank for a birdie on the 2nd hole...
…and went on to make the turn in three-under 33. With a few holes remaining in his round, Johnson is hanging in at seven under, and should be well positioned for a run at a second straight Jug.
Two other big movers were a pair of Scandinavians: Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, ranked 6th in the world and seeking his first major, had surged to eight under with a few holes to play; and Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen, 41, who has four Euro tour wins but just two top-10s in the majors, including a T-7 at this year's Masters. Kjeldsen is in the clubhouse with a three-under 68 and will enjoy a warm, cozy afternoon off the course.
Keegan Bradley, one of Mickleson’s favorite Ryder Cup teammates, is also making a push up the yellow boards. He wore black hightops and carded three birdies on the front nine, including a side-door putt on 7:
As the rain soaked, several players sunk. Martin Kaymer made an early run to reach seven under, but crashed out with a triple on the 10th hole after blowing his approach over the green. Paul Casey four-putted from four feet. Adam Scott and Dustin Johnson are both stuck around even par, going nowhere.
But for the second straight day, Mickelson has carried the show. Which means more thrills this weekend.
Set your alarms.
Still to come this afternoon in Scotland (and late morning in the U.S.): Rory McIlroy (9:37 ET), Jason Day (9:26 ET) and Jordan Spieth (9:04 ET).