SOUTHPORT, England — Good morning from Royal Birkdale.
Conditions toughened up here for the second round of the 146th British Open -- well, for everyone except Rory McIlroy. More on that shortly.
But even though high winds have frustrated players Friday morning, they may have gotten the better side of the draw. Rain is expected to fall this afternoon, and heavy showers are predicted for the last few hours of play. Winds could pick up, too.
So, grab a cup of coffee and settle in. Here's what you missed this morning at the Open. (And check out the leaderboard here.)
We never doubted him, did we? He bogeyed five of the first six holes Thursday and it appeared his stay in Southport might be short lived. But oh how the tides have turned. As you may remember, he righted the ship with four back-nine birdies to shoot 71, and he didn't cool off this morning. He had a kick-in birdie at the 1st and knocked in short birdie putts on 3 and 6. This, by the way, came while most of the field struggled to match Thursday's scores. McIlroy turned in 31, which at the time was good for two under and T9. He added fist-pumping par saves from outside 10 feet on 10 and 11. After his terrible start on Thursday, he went 24 holes without a bogey before making 5 on the 13th hole Friday. His final tally? A two-under-par 68, leaving him at one under for the tournament at the halfway point. Not too shabby!
Scores are rising
The first group teed off this morning at 6:35 a.m. local, and five hours later, at 11:35 a.m., only nine of 78 players were under par. (And seven of those players were only one under.) The two outliers were Zach Johnson (four under through 14 at the time) and McIlroy (three under through seven at the time).
As for one of the first-round leaders…
Matt Kuchar birdied the 15th to get to six under overall and grab the outright lead, but he fell back to four under with a bogies on 16 and 18. Kuchar was a co-leader overnight with Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka, who tee off this afternoon. His score of one-over-par 71 in the second round leaves him one stroke behind the current lead.
Here's what we have to look forward to this afternoon: A 30% chance of rain will become an 80% chance at 4 p.m. local (10 a.m. ET), and winds will increase to 20 mph with gusts between 30-40 mph. Heavy rain is expected at 6 p.m.
First-round co-leaders Spieth (2:48 p.m. local) and Koepka (3:10 p.m.) will be right in the middle of it. Spieth talked about the luck of the weather draw earlier this week. Now he's going to have to fight through it.
So long, DJ?
The World No. 1 is two over through 11, but he may be in danger of missing the cut if he falls much farther. The final holes of his round will be crucial.