Tuesday 16 July 2019

McIlroy and Spieth lurking ahead of Open moving day

Jordan Spieth in the rough on the sixth hole. Photo: Getty Images
Jordan Spieth in the rough on the sixth hole. Photo: Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Golf has little connection with the sport of kings but if there's such as a thing as horses for courses then Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are well and truly off and running at The Open.

Rain has featured in all four of the Co Down man's Major wins and he's now lurking ominously on four-under par, one shot clear of Spieth, and just two behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner after an impressive second successive 69 from the tougher side of the draw.

McIlroy admitted yesterday that he learned a harsh lesson from the Masters in April, where he felt he was too cagey and conservative and failed to do himself justice in the final group alongside Patrick Reed, posting an anaemic 74 that day to finish six adrift.

"Worrying too much about the result, not focusing as much on the process," McIlroy said of the lessons learnt that Sunday.

"Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve again for me because even if I hadn't won the tournament, had gone down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.

"So I'm committed to making sure, even if I don't play my best golf and don't shoot the scores I want, I'm going to go down swinging and go down giving it my best."

Zach Johnson celebrates after sinking a birdie putt on the 18th. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Zach Johnson celebrates after sinking a birdie putt on the 18th. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Spieth began the day one-over par after a frustrating Thursday but he heads into the weekend just three shots off the lead on three-under.

The 24-year-old's round included five birdies and, after escaping with a bogey on the 16th that he feared could have been worse, he was pleased to finish off with two pars.

"One-over on the last four certainly beat yesterday. I didn't know at the beginning of the week that I'd take that," he said.

"It was a phenomenal up-and-down for bogey (on 16). I thought that was a huge save today. And then giving myself two putts on the last two holes was all I could ask for. So I'm very happy to be back in the tournament."

With six strokes covering the top 39 players on the leaderboard, today will be a mega-moving day with Carnoustie denuded of rough and the fiery fairways anaesthetised by several hours of steady rainfall.

Renowned tactician Johnson, the 2015 champion, shot 67 and the precise Kisner a 71 to lead by a shot on six-under from England's Tommy Fleetwood, who fired an immaculate six-under 65.

As the rain eased off later and the sun emerged, Arizona's Pat Perez (42) shot 68 and the impressive Californian Xander Schauffele (24) a 66 to share third with Fleetwood on five-under.

The leaderboard is a menagerie of styles with big hitters like McIlroy, Tony Finau, and South Africans Zander Lombard and Erik van Rooyen all tied for sixth with a tactical player like Matt Kuchar, who was singled out by Pádraig Harrington earlier in the week as the type of guy who could defy the bombers.

It was no surprise to see afternoon starters Kevin Chappell, Spieth and Rickie Fowler make hay and move to within three of the lead on three-under.

But there were also disasters with Spain's Jon Rahm, moving into the top six after a birdie-bogey-birdie start only to implode with six dropped shots in three holes from the seventh, carding a 78 to miss the cut

McIlroy's game was hugely impressive and while he made two bogeys, his haul of four birdies owed much to his decisive putting and precision iron play as his driving.

"I think he knows what he's doing," Harrington said when asked if he had any advice for McIlroy on tackling Carnoustie in an Open.

"From the wrong side of the draw it looks very positive. The two days he's had, you'd say they were tough enough conditions and certainly it looks like the tougher side of the draw. To keep yourself in contention, he's got to be feeling good."

Of the five Irishmen in the field, only Paul Dunne managed to join McIlroy for the weekend, finishing with three gutsy pars for a 73 to make the three-over cut with a shot to spare.

Shane Lowry's decision to leave his caddie on the sidelines was a shock in the middle of a championship and a 73 was no surprise as he missed the cut by two shots.

"It was just stress that wasn't necessary really," Dunne sighed. "I can still climb up over the weekend but it was disappointing really. I was in a great position to make a good run over the weekend and just didn't do it. To have a chance now, I need two outstanding weekend rounds."

Harrington's return to the scene of his 2007 breakthrough was not a happy one and at 46, the course simply wore him down.

"Yesterday afternoon's finish really scuppered me," said Harrington, who played his last four holes in three-over for the second day running, adding a 74 to his opening 76 to finish on eight-over.

"I definitely seemed to run out of steam both days. Maybe I just made it a bit difficult for myself for the first 14 holes, even if I was scoring okay, it was far from stress-free.

"Maybe the course wore me down. It's tough when you're not creating too many chances, and even if you're getting up and down for pars, it is wearing. So it got the better of me at the end."

As for Darren Clarke, the 2011 champion shot an 83 - his worst round in 27 appearances - to finish last in the field on 23-over.

 

Open Scoreboard

 

Round 2  totals – Carnoustie Golf Links, Scotland (Par 71, (a) denotes amateur)

136 (-6) : Z Johnson (USA) 69 67, K Kisner (USA) 66 70;

137 (-5) : T Fleetwood 72 65, P Perez (USA) 69 68,  X Schauffele (USA) 71 66;

138 (-4): R McIlroy (NI) 69 69, E Van Rooyen (RSA) 67 71, M Kuchar (USA) 70 68, T Finau (USA) 67 71, Z Lombard (RSA) 67 71;

139 (-3): K Chappell (USA) 70 69, J Spieth (USA) 72 67, R Fowler (USA) 70 69;

140 (-2): T Olesen (Den) 70 70, D Willett 69 71, L List (USA) 70 70, B Stone (RSA) 68 72;

141 (-1) : R Moore (USA) 68 73, A Noren (Swe) 70 71, C Hoffman (USA) 71 70, A Scott (Aus) 71 70, K Stanley (USA) 72 69, B Koepka (USA) 72 69, M Southgate 69 72, E Pepperell 71 70 P Cantlay (USA) 70 71, W Simpson (USA) 70 71, S Kang (Kor) 69 72;

142 (Level) : F Molinari (Ita) 70 72, J Day (Aus) 71 71, M Kim (USA) 73 69, L Herbert (Aus) 73 69, T Woods (USA) 71 71, S Norris (RSA) 74 68, A Cook (USA) 72 70, P Mickelson (USA) 73 69, S Cink (USA) 72 70, L Oosthuizen (RSA) 72 70, S Crocker (USA) 71 71;

143 (+1):  C Davis (Aus) 71 72, H Li (Chn) 71 72, B Hossler (USA) 73 70, T Pieters (Bel) 70 73, M Kinhult (Swe) 74 69, S Kodaira (Jpn) 72 71, Y Ideda (Jpn) 70 73, S-W Kim (Kor) 71 72, G Woodland (USA) 71 72, A Hadwin (Can) 73 70, J Suri (USA) 74 69, K Na (USA) 70 63;

144 (+2): B-H An (Kor) 73 71, L Westwood 72 72, M Leishman (Aus) 72 72, B Steele (USA) 68 76, C Smith (Aus) 73 71, S Sharma (Ind) 73 71, M Kawamura (Jpn) 77 67, B Rumford (Aus); 74 70, P Dunne (Irl) 71 73, R Cabrera Bello (Esp) 74 70, B Langer (Ger) 73 71, C Wood 70 74, P Casey 73 71;

145 (+3): S Locke (a) 72 73, T Lewis 75 70, H Stenson (Swe) 70 75, B Dechambeau (USA) 75 70, J Dufner (USA) 75 70, R Fox (Nzl) 74 71, K Bradley (USA) 74 71, R Fisher 75 70, T Hatton 74 71, Y Miyazato (Jpn) 71 74, J Rose 72 73, K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 74 71, P Reed (USA) 75 70, R Enoch 74 71, G Green (USA) 72 73.

Missed Cut

146 (+4) D Berger (USA) 73 73, J Thomas (USA) 69 77, B Grace (RSA) 74 72, C Reavie (USA) 69 77, T Lehman (USA) 75 71, M Wallace 74 72, S Garcia (Esp) 75 71, H Matsuyama (Jpn) 75 71, R Knox 73 73, F Zanotti (Par) 72 74, M Kaymer (Ger) 71 75, G Coetzee (RSA) 75 71, P Uihlein (USA) 74 72;

147 (+5) C Schwartzel (RSA) 74 73, K Kraft (USA) 74 73, M Fitzpatrick 72 75, J Campillo (Esp) 72 75, J Smith 74 73, A Sullivan 71 76, O Wilson 75 72 , S Lowry (Irl) 74 73, B Harman (USA) 71 76, C Hadley (USA) 73 74, J Rahm (Esp) 69 78;

148 (+6) A Levy (Fra) 73 75, D Johnson (USA) 76 72, B Watson (USA) 75 73, B Burgoon (USA) 74 74, N Hojgaard (Den) (a) 72 76;

149 (+7) C Howell III (USA) 75 74, R Henley (USA) 69 80, R Tokimatsu (Jpn) 72 77, A Ancer (Mex) 71 78, M Calcavecchia (USA), E Els (RSA) 73 76, S Jameson 75 74, S-H Park (Kor) 76 73, M Armitage 80 69;

150 (+8) J Walker (USA) 72 78, D Frittelli (RSA) 71 79, J Kokrak (USA) 72 78, P Harrington (Irl) 76 74, J Janewattananond (Tha) 74 76 T Curtis 82 68, E Grillo (Arg) 76 74, H Tinihara (Jpn) 75 75; A Lahiri (Ind) 76 74, J Vegas (Col)76 74, A Bjork (Swe) 72 78, H Magnus (Ice) 72 78, K Ichihara (Jpn) 78 72;

151 (+9) P Kizzire (USA) 77 74, M Hendry (Nzl) 73 78, S Akiyoshi (Jpn) 77 74, T Hamilton (USA) 75 76, R Armour (USA) 75 76, M Jones (USA) 75 76, S Lyle 75 76, R Goosen (RSA) 74 77;

152 (+10) D Boonma (Tha) 78 74;

153 (+11) J Blixt (Swe) 77 76, N Colsaerts (Bel) 79 74, G Forrest 80 73, M Choi (Kor) 79 74;

154 (+12) B Snedeker (USA) 76 78, I Poulter 73 81, M Kobayashi (Jpn) 82 72, B Schnell (USA) 79 75, Y Lin (Chn) (a) 80 74;

155 (+13) J Senior 79 76, A Turner 78 77;

156 (+14) J Robinson 75 81;

157 (+15) A Landry (USA) 80 77;

158 (+16) J Rebula (RSA) (a) 79 79, J Dantorp (Swe) 76 82;

165 (+23) D Clarke (NI) 82 83.

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