British Open: Day Two

The battle for the Claret Jug continues on day two at Royal Birkdale

Ruaidhrí Croke (earlier), Johnny Watterson (now) Fri, Jul 21
 
LIVE: British Open: Day Two

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  • 07:47

    Good morning and welcome to day two at the Open Championship! The wind is already beginning to get up at Birkdale and it's going to be tough day on the links. I'm Ruaidhrí Croke and I'll be with you for the morning as the likes of Jason Day, Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson get their second rounds underway. You can get involved by using the 'Contact Us' button at the top of the blog or you can get me on Twitter @Ruaidhri_Croke. It's Friday at the Open, it's windy, it's going to be exciting, let's get going!

    You can find all of the day two tee times here (in the brackets) and play has been underway already since 6.36. Sergio Garcis, Jason Day and Zach Johnson make up the first of the big marquee groups when they get going at 8.03, with the likes of Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott and joint leader Matt Kuchar all within the following half an hour or so. Rory McIlroy - who fought back so well on the back nine yesterday - gets the Irish challenge going at 9.47 with Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and Shane Lowry not away until after 2pm.

    -5 Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka

    -4: Paul Casey, Charl Schwartzel

    -3: Austin Connelly (2), Charley Hoffman, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Ian Poulter, Justin Thomas, Richard Bland

    -2: Martin Laird, Ernie Els, Joost Luiten, David Lipsky, Richie Ramsay, Daniel Berger, Bubba Watson, Kevin Na, Kent Bulle, Stuart Manley, ALex Noren, Hideki Matsuyama, James Hahn, Sung Kang

    Irish leaderboard: +1 Rory McIlroy, +2 Shane Lowry, +3 Padraig Harrington, +5 Darren Clarke

  • 07:52

    So, the wind is already beginning to strengthen on the north west coast of England and today is set to be a much tougher day for scoring after the relatively benign conditions that greeted the players yesterday. With gusts due to reach their strongest in the afternoon it's an opportunity for some of these morning players to make a score and climb up the leaderboard. The group of Ernie Els (-2), Ross Fisher (E) and Bernd Wiesberger (-1) have just gone down the first with Day, Garcia and Johnson off in just under 15 minutes.

    You can catch up on Philip Reid's reports from Birkdale below:

    Rory McIlroy fights back at Birkdale after horror start

    Frustrating opening day for Harrington and Lowry

  • 08:06

    Johnson, Day and Garcia launch their tee shots down the first fairway and they're away.

    With no rain this morning and just wind, the course is really beginning to firm up now and play like a proper links test. Yesterday morning's rain had softened the greens up, allowing players to fly shots right to the pins in the confidence that they would stop. That doesn't look to be the case today as balls are bounding along and running up greens. This is going to be great viewing today, let me tell you.

  • 08:12
    As usual, if you're wondering about the fortunes of any particular player - perhaps you've placed a few euro on them - just use the 'Contact Us' button at the top of the blog to get in touch and I'll fill you in on all of the info.
  • 08:26

    A lot of the talk among players and pundits alike this morning has been about Jon Rahm avoiding a two-stroke penalty yesterday evening for an incident which occured on the 17th hole. It's already gaining controversy as the second questionable ruling in which Rahm has avoided penalty in the space of two weeks. Remember he was adjudged not to have deliberately misplaced his ball on the green in the final round at Portstewart two weeks ago, despite the ball clearly being put back down in a different spot.


    Anyway, let me fill you in on the details of yesterday evening's controversy.  


    After winging his drive into the long rough towards a bush, Rahm moved (what he thought) was a dead bramble which was lying near his ball. However, this caught the attention of playing partner Lee Westwood who came over to check and pointed out that the bramble was, in fact, alive and attached to the bush. A referee was called and Rahm was assessed a two stroke penalty for improving his lie - you can move impediments if they are dead but not if they are alive in the form of branches, leaves etc. Just think, if you could do so you'd have players taking chainsaws out with them and cutting down trees that are in their way.


    Anyway, Rahm was given a two-stroke penalty and continued. However, after the round when he came in to sign his scorecard the R&A's chief referee David Rickman met with him and, after hearing his explanation, decided he was in the clear and overturned the penalty. That meant that a six at the 17th became a four and a one over par 71 became a one under par 69.


    It's a second time in two weeks now that Rahm has come out on the right side of a controversial ruling and will undoubtedly raise suspicions - right or wrong - among fellow players and pundits. While there is absolutely nothing to suggest that Rahm knew he was improving his lie (and let's be honest, why would he risk it?), it's unfortunate that it comes so soon after the Portstewart incident.  


    You can be sure of one thing, however, and that is that, if Rahm is to get into contention over the weekend (which you would expect him to), this won't be the last we hear of the 17th hole on Thursday.

  • 08:36

    I'd be very surprised if that's the last we hear of the Rahm incident. He's out at 9.58 this morning so let's see what happens.

    Anyway, back to the golf currently taking place. Day, Johnson and Garcia all kicked off with pars on the first and the group of Paul Casey, Adam Scott and Rickie Fowler are now on the first hole. This could be the best group of the early morning players.

    Casey's brilliant 66 (-4) yesterday continued his good form in the big events this year and you have to expect that that elusive major will be notched up soon - and why not here on Sunday. The Englishman turns 40 today and has just seen his approach to the first green scoot over the back with that hole playing straight downwind and the breeze continuing to get stronger.

    Fowler, who would have expected a lot more than a 71 (+1) yesterday, has given himself a good look at birdie to get off to the best possible start while Scott (-1) faces nothing more than 10 feet for his three.

    With the wind getting stronger and stronger as the day goes on, Fowler and Scott are right in this - as are the likes of Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson. By the end of today level par or -1 will be in very good shape.

  • 08:43

    Co-leader Matt Kuchar has just got his second round underway alongside Richie Ramsay and Ryan Fox. The American went around the front nine in a sensational 29 strokes yesterday on his way to a 65. The top-10 specialist has never won a major but is up there so often that he has to, at least, come close soon enough. One thing for sure is that there will be no 29s on either nine today.

    Fowler, Casey and Scott all safely negotiated the first in pars, although Fowler - and particularly Scott - will be disappointed not to have picked up birdies after their second shots.

  • 08:49

    Fowler is taking this course on today as he looks to climb up the leaderboard. If the winds get up as expected that could be a dangerous game but, for now, it's working. After a super drive at the second he's spun a wedge in to six feet from 127 yards and should pick up his first birdie of the day to get back to level par.


    Scott and Casey both found the heavy rough on the left but have done well. Scott will face a 20 or 30 yard chip up the green with his third while Casey is in the front right bunker but shouldn't face too many problems.

  • 08:54

    It's a solid par to start for Kuchar and he remains at -5 and tied for the lead.

    That's now two shots ahead of Casey after a poor bunker shot left him with too much to do for his par.  

    Scott did well to get up and down to save par while Fowler, putting straight up the hill for his birdie, pushed it right and missed. That's only a par for the American after an excellent tee shot and second shot and he remains one over.

    Young Canadian Austin Connelly - who is good friends with Jordan Spieth - is moving his way up the leaderboard just by virtue of making pars. He's made seven in his first seven holes and remains two shots behind the lead at -3.

  • 08:59

    -5 Matt Kuchar (1), Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka

    -4: Charl Schwartzel

    -3: Paul Casey (2), Austin Connelly (7), Charley Hoffman, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Ian Poulter, Justin Thomas, Richard Bland

    -2: Joost Luiten (2), David Lipsky (2), Richie Ramsay (1), Daniel Berger, Bubba Watson, Kevin Na, Kent Bulle, Stuart Manley, ALex Noren, Hideki Matsuyama, James Hahn, Sung Kang

    Irish leaderboard: +1 Rory McIlroy, +2 Shane Lowry, +3 Padraig Harrington, +5 Darren Clarke

    If you're wondering about the fortunes of any particular player just get in touch and I'll fill you in!

  • 09:08

    Matt Kuchar drops out of the lead.


    After his second shot at the second hole came up short, leaving a very tough up-and-down over a bunker, Kuchar could only pitch it to eight feet and then watch his putt slide right. That's a bogey for the Kuuuuuch and he slips back to -4.


    Over at the third Jason Day has slipped back to level par after finding a bunker with his second and failing to get up-and-down.


    Austin Connelly is the man really keeping his head on so far. The 20-year-old, 5'7" short game wizard has got up and down yet again at the eighth to make it eight pars in a row and remain at -3. Excellent playing from the young man.

  • 09:14

    Okay, so Adam Scott has just left a par putt short from no more than two feet at the third. It came up short. From two feet. That's the Australian back to level par.

    Perhaps spooked by that, Casey has missed his par effort from even closer! He pushed it dead right and it never even touched the hole. That's a second bogey in a row for Casey and he's all of a sudden back to -2.  

    As we all know, putting becomes so tough in the breeze and this wind is really beginning to get to the players now!

  • 09:17

    At the fourth Garcia has made a bogey after finding the bushes with his tee shot. The Masters champion is now back to +4 and has work to do to make the cut.  

    But we have a rare birdie! And it comes from Dutchman Joost Luiten. After stiffing his tee shot at the par three fourth he made no mistake with the putt and is now up to -3. He's one of only four players on course who are under par for the day! This is just getting tougher and tougher.

  • 09:19

    Matt Kuchar moves back into a tie for the lead!

    And it's by virtue of a chip in. After pulling his tee shot left at the par four third he could only move his second shot up to 10 yards or short of the green. But no matter, he's gone and pitched it in from there to get the dropped shot at the last straight back.

  • 09:21

    And now we have an eagle!

    It's all heating up all of a sudden! After that bogey at the fourth, Garcia put all of his anger into his drive at the fifth and powered it all the way over the back of the green onto the fringe. From there he opted for the putter and has rolled it right into the middle for an eagle two! That's Garcia back to +2.

  • 09:25

    It's pars all round for the three-ball of Scott (E), Fowler (+1) and Casey (-2) at the par three third.

    Over at the fifth Day has dropped another shot to slip back to +1 after watching his playing partner Garcia make an eagle two.

    We're less than 30 minutes until McIlroy-time now!

  • 09:25
  • 09:27
    A. Murphy Great coverage. Keep up the good work with all the detail that you are providing
  • 09:28

    Thanks. The main detail at the moment is that the wind is increasing and increasing by the minute!

    Not to speak too soon but McIlroy generally struggles in the wind and these are not very Rory-like conditions...

    Let's hope he can prove me wrong.

  • 09:33

    At +4 for the first five holes yesterday, McIlroy's caddie JP Fitzgerald turned to him on the sixth tee and said "you're Rory McIlroy, what the f*** are you doing?"

    McIlroy paid tribute to his bagman after the round yesterday for keeping him going and it obviously worked as he cut the back nine down to size in just 32 strokes to finish +1.

    Let's hope JP has a word with him before the start today. He's out alongside Dustin Johnson and Charl Schwartzel at 9.47.

  • 09:35

    Matt Kuchar takes the lead on his own at -6!

    This is heroic struff from the Kuch. After pitching in for birdie at the third, his tee shot at the par three fourth left him 50 feet for the birdie but he's gone and rolled it in the front door! What a turnaround that is after a bogey at the second.

  • 09:39

    -6: Kuchar (4)

    -5: Spieth, Koepka

    -4: Schwartzel

    -3: Connelly (10), Luiten (5), Hoffman (3), Cabrera-Bello, Poulter, Thomas, Bland

    -2: Casey (4), Ramsay (4), Berger, Watson, Na, Bulle, Manley, Noren, Matsuyama, Hahn, Kang

    Irish leaderboard: +1 McIlroy, +2 Lowry, +3 Harrington, +5 Clarke

  • 09:39
    Sully Ruaidhri looking forward to following you from Dunmore East where the wind is getting up ahead of a scramble. No caddies though.
  • 09:39

    No caddies, but at least you have a few goes at it in a scramble! Best of luck.

  • 09:41
  • 09:41
    Below you can see that the driving range at Royal Birkdale isn't big enough for Rory McIlroy. He's carrying those drives over 330 yards and into the trees. I don't think the range collector will be going in there to get those golf balls.
  • 09:42
    Sully It's a two person. I need Johnny Watterson's power game
  • 09:42
    Johnny Watterson's power game is steering the ship of this blog from midday.
  • 09:42
    EM Ruaidhri, why did so many shoot over par yesterday? have they set the course up to hard too early as looking at the highlights last night, conditions didnt appear to be that bad! what you think?
  • 09:45

    I think the majority of over par scores were from the morning starters as conditions played extremely tough in the early stages. There was heavy rain and wind when the opening players got going just after 6.30am and that didn't really fully clear until after 10am - which shows just how good Poulter's 67 was.

    The main thing though is that, even in benign conditions, Birkdale is always one of the toughest Open courses due to the perfect placement of pot bunkers and the undulating greens. The bunkers in particular have caused the players a lot of hassle and that's been the main reason for dropped shots.

    With this wind getting stronger and stronger you can be absolutely certain that there will be even more players over par today!

  • 09:47

    The lack of par fives - there are only two on the whole course and both don't come until the final four holes - also plays a part in over par scores as there aren't too many places to pick up birdies.  

    Back to the first tee we go and Rory McIlroy is about to get underway!

  • 09:50

    McIlroy signals his intentions early by crushing a fairway wood down the fairway, leaving nothing more than a flick of a wedge to the first green.

    World number one Johnson opts for the one-iron and chases a low stinger down the fairway, his ball just scuttling into the first cut.

    Schwartzel also goes with an iron but turns it over and his ball bounds into the heavy rough on the left hand side.

    The South African outshone the two big names yesterday with a round of -4 while McIlroy and Johnson carded 71s for +1.  

  • 09:53

    We have a birdie and a new man alongside Schwartzel at -4!

    This has been some round from 20-year-old Austin Connelly. After 10 straight pars to start he's picked up his first birdie of the day at the 11th and is now just two off the lead! Going that long without a bogey on a day like this is something special.  

    Back at the fifth Kuchar's birdie run comes to an end as his putt slows up just short. He remains at -6.

  • 09:56

    McIlroy's three-wood went just the 372 yards at the first...

    And he's made the most of it! He's bumped a beautiful low wedge in to three feet and should go straight back to level par.  

    Schwartzel managed to muscle an excellent shot from the left rough up the green to 15 feet or so and he'll have that to get to five under.

    Meanwhile, Johnson's approach flew long and leaves a tricky up and down for his par.

  • 09:59

    It's all going right for young Austin Connelly at the moment. At the par three 12th his tee shot landed on the front right of the green and bounded on to about 10 feet. That's for a second consecutive birdie and to get within one shot of Kuchar.

    Back at the first tee Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed and Lee Westwood have got underway.

    Up at the green, McIlroy faces three feet for birdie...

  • 10:03

    And it's there!

    An absolutely perfect start for McIlroy and he's back to level par and now just six shots off the lead.

    Alongside him there are pars for Schwartzel and Johnson.

    Over at the sixth Fowler joins McIlroy at level par with his first birdie of the day after five pars in a row to start.

    However, it's all going wrong for Fowler's playing partner Casey. Starting the day at -4 he's now back to -1 after letting another shot slip there at the sixth.

  • 10:06

    That's McIlroy's fifth birdie in nine holes and, given the form player he is, we could see something special today. At the second he's launched a one-iron down the fairway, his ball just running into the first cut on the right, but that's a perfect angle to come into the green from there.

    Connelly couldn't convert that birdie chance at the 12th and remains -4. If he can keep his solid play going and par in to the finish he could well be in the lead by the end of the day.

  • 10:08
  • 10:09
    Up at the eighth Garcia is being seen to for a second time by a physio after he injured his shoulder by trashing his club at a gorse bush on the fourth. See below for footage of the incident. He's +2 and still in this so let's hope it's not too bad.
  • 10:10

    As usual, if you're wondering about the fortunes of any particular player just get in touch using the 'Contact Us' button at the top of the blog and I'll give you all of the info.

    Over to the second we go and McIlroy. Coming from the first cut he wedges his approach straight over the pin where it grabs and spins back a little to 10 feet. That's another very makeable birdie putt and McIlroy looks in the zone now!

  • 10:11
    steve getting back to Rahm, what prompted Westwood to check on Rahm's action?
  • 10:13
    Apologies for the late reply. I think Westwood just spotted Rahm moving branches and wanted to make sure everything was being done legitimately. You'll often see players keep an eye on their playing partners at times like that. It's not to see if they're taking advantage but more so to make sure they're not making a mistake by accidentally improving their lie or something of the like. Westwood must have spotted the bramble was indeed attached to the bush.
  • 10:14

    Speaking of Rahm, he's dropped a shot at the first after failing to get up and down. He's now back to level par.

    Here goes McIlroy for the birdie...

  • 10:15

    And it comes up inches short, right in the jaws!

    That's a slight chance gone but he'll be absolutely delighted with being back to level par after just two holes, considering he was already +2 for the tournament at this stage yesterday.

  • 10:17

    Rickie Fowler!

    It's all heating up now! Over at the seventh Fowler missed the green with his approach, leaving a long pitch and run but he's nailed it right in the centre! That's an unlikely birdie for the American and he's now -1 and -2 for the day.

    He remains five shots behind Kuchar who has made an excellent par save at the sixth thanks to a 10 foot putt.

    And matters just keep getting worse for Casey, on his 40th birthday and everything. His fourth bogey of the day has just come at the seventh and he's now all the way back at level par.

  • 10:17
    Niall How is the German, Kaymer getting on ? Any chance of getting in the mix ?
  • 10:18
    Kaymer finished with a 72 yesterday for +2 and has yet to improve on that today. Nine pars in a row have seen him out in 34 shots and he remains eight back of the lead.
  • 10:21

    -6: Kuchar (6)

    -5: Spieth, Koepka

    -4: Connelly (12), Schwartzel (2)

    -3: Hoffman (5), Cabrera-Bello, Poulter, Thomas, Bland

    -2: Luiten (7), Ramsay (6), Olesen (5), Berger (3), B Watson, Na, Bulle, Manley, Noren, Matsuyama, Hahn, Kang

    Irish leaderboard: E McIlroy (2), +2 Lowry, +3 Harrington, +5 Clarke

  • 10:23

    When it's going your way, it's going your way.


    At the third McIlroy launches a drive down the right of the fairway where it looks bound for the bunker but a hop, skip and a jump to the left means it misses the sand and scuttles a long way down the hole leaving nothing more than a wedge into the green from 122 yards.


    Over at the 13th Connelly's bogey-free run has come to an end and he slips back to -3 but is still well in this.

  • 10:26

    McIlroy!

    After that big drive down the third he's spun another superb wedge shot over the pin and back to eight feet. This is Rory in the zone and there is absolutely no better sight in golf.

  • 10:30

    Over at the first, Phil Mickelson has opened with a birdie to get back to +2 after a 73 yesterday.


    Meanwhile Thorbjorn Olesen had made a quick start with two birdies in his first five holes to join the big group at -2. That group now includes Charley Hoffman who has dropped his first shot of the day at the treacherous par four sixth.  

  • 10:32

    Two birdies in three holes for McIlroy!

    He rattles his putt at the third right into the centre of the cup and is now back to -1!  

  • 10:35

    After that chip in birdie at the seventh Fowler has dropped a very sloppy shot at the eighth. Faced with a long birdie putt he left it at least 10 feet short with a disastrous stroke. From there he missed for the par and is now back to level par.

    Meanwhile, Schwartzel remains at -4 after making an great up and down to save par at the third while Johnson also saved his four with a 10 footer to remain at +1.

  • 10:39

    That's McIlroy's sixth birdie in 11 holes including the back nine yesterday and he is really in the zone now.

    However, he has work to do on the par three sixth after tugging his tee shot ever so slightly left where it's scuttled down into a little deep, leaving very little green to work with for his second. He'll most likely have take the putter from there.

    Johnson found the heart of the green and faces 30 feet for birdie while Schwartzel's tee shot almost hopped straight into the hole! He has about eight feet from there to get within one of the lead.

    Back at the second it's all going wrong for Rahm. After that short missed par putt on the first he's missed another of similar length at the second and is now back to +1. Dare I say it, the score he was on after yesterday's round before that two-shot penalty was overturned...

  • 10:41
    Kuchar is struggling at the eighth. After leaving his approach short of the green his seems to have bladed his pitch shot slightly and it runs out to 25 feet. That's for par.
  • 10:42

    Back at the fourth McIlroy has played a gorgeous bump shot into the mound in front of him, letting it roll out to two feet. He's really feeling it today and that should be a solid par to remain -1.

    Johnson's birdie putt slips past the left and he also has to settle for a par.

    But Schwartzel is now -5 after sinking his birdie effort and could be tied for the lead in a few minutes given Kuchar's troubles at the eighth.

  • 10:44

    -5: Kuchar (8), Schwartzel (4), Spieth, Koepka

    -3: Cabrera-Bello (1), Poulter, Thomas, Bland, B Watson (2)

    -2: Connelly (14), Ramsay (7), Hoffman (7), Berger (5), Na, Bulle, Manley, Noren, Matsuyama, Hahn, Kang

    Irish leaderboard: -1 McIlroy (4), +2 Lowry, +3 Harrington, +5 Clarke

  • 10:46

    As you can see there, Kuchar couldn't save his par there at the eighth and he slips back into a tie for the lead with Schwartzel, Spieth and Koepka.

    McIlroy did tap in for a great par save and is now just four shots off the lead!

    And, just two shots off the lead, is Bubba Watson. The American with the bright yellow ball smacked a huge drive down the second fairway, spun his second to a foot and tapped in for birdie to get to -3.

  • 10:50

    At the short par four fifth, McIlroy, Johnson and Schwartzel all take irons off the tee and find the fairway.

    That's the wise play. Garcia did drive this green today and make an eagle two but it's a high risk shot with the wind howling and a water hazard on the right.

  • 10:55

    Every shot is straight down the barrel for McIlroy at the moment and it's no different at the fifth. His wedge shot never left the pin, pitching 10 feet short and stopping dead. That's for a third birdie in five holes and to get into the top 10 after being +5 through the first six yesterday. Remarkable stuff.

    Johnson's approach flew a little long and settled in the fringe while Schwartzel's absolutely flew straight over the green and into the very, very nasty stuff over the back. He's in the lap of the gods there.

  • 10:56
  • 11:01

    Schwartzel has had to take a penalty drop after his ball was plugged in the long fescue over the back of the fifth of the green. In a regular PGA Tour or European Tour event that's a free drop but, for some reason, the R&A only give free drops if your ball is plugged in a closely mown area.  

    So it's a one shot penalty for Schwartzel and, after chipping down and missing the par putt, it's a double bogey six and he falls back to -3.

  • 11:02

    McIlroy's birdie putt starts right and begins to break in but just not enough!

    That's a missed chance but it's a good par and he's still very well placed at -1 and, most importantly, playing some of his best stuff and brimming with confidence.

    Meanwhile, back at the third, it's been a disaster for Mickelson after losing a ball with his tee shot and winding up with a triple bogey to slip all the way back to +5.

  • 11:03
    Kuchar does well to tidy up for par at the ninth to go out in an even par 34 and remain in a tie for the lead with Spieth and Koepka at -5.
  • 11:08

    Unfortunately, Irish Open champion Jon Rahm has started with three consecutive bogeys and is now back to +2.

    Meanwhile, Fowler has given his two birdies straight back with bogeys at the eighth and the ninth to slip back to where he started the day at +1.

    -5: Kuchar (9), Spieth, Koepka

    -3: Schwartzel (5), Cabrera-Bello (2), B Watson (2), Bulle (1), Poulter, Thomas, Bland

    -2: Connelly (15), Ramsay (9), Hoffman (8), Berger (6), Manley, Noren, Matsuyama, Hahn, Kang

    Irish leaderboard: -1 McIlroy (5), +2 Lowry, +3 Harrington, +5 Clarke

  • 11:11

    McIlroy and co have reached the par four sixth - the hardest hole on the course and which played to an average of 4.50 yesterday.

    Schwartzel's tee shot flew way right and forced him to hack out from the long fescue. It seems to be getting away from the South African a bit now after that double bogey at the last.

    Johnson's approach from the first cut catches in the breeze and comes up short.

    And, lastly, McIlroy from 173 yards. He sends it way into orbit, fading in beautifully on the breeze and landing three feet away!

    It's another kick in birdie for the four-time major winner and, if he maintains this form, he could well be a five-time major champion. What a shot on the hardest hole!

  • 11:11
    Jason Is Sergio still out there?
  • 11:13
    He is indeed and he remains +2 through 12 holes. I have't heard any more about the injury since he saw the physio so hopefully all is okay. He's -1 for the day and going along quite well, given the conditions. McIlroy is just playing a different game today.
  • 11:18

    It's another birdie for McIlroy!

    He's now within three of the lead and absolutely on fire! No mistake there from three feet and McIlroy gets to -2 and into the top 10 after being +5 through six holes yesterday. That's -7 for his last 18 holes.

    Schwartzel, meanwhile, can't save his par and follows that double bogey at the last with a bogey at the sixth and he's now back alongside McIlroy at -2.

  • 11:18
    Nick Sitting in the airport waiting on my flight but enjoying your blog very much, c'mon Rory
  • 11:18
    Rob How is Ernie doing?
  • 11:19
    It's been a tough day for Els after starting at -2 after a great 68 yesterday. he's +3 for the day through 14 holes and back to +1.
  • 11:19
  • 11:22

    -5: Kuchar (10), Spieth, Koepka

    -3: Cabrera-Bello (3), B Watson (3), Bulle (1), Poulter, Thomas, Bland

    -2: Connelly (16), Ramsay (10), Hoffman (9), McIlroy (6), Schwartzel (6), Manley, Noren, Matsuyama, Hahn, Kang

    Irish leaderboard: -2 McIlroy (6), +2 Lowry, +3 Harrington, +5 Clarke

  • 11:25

    McIlroy's tee shot at the par three seventh finds the heart of the green and leaves a long, outside birdie chance. The way he's playing though you wouldn't be surprised if that drops.

    Johnson, who is now back at +2, pulls his tee shot left where it misses the green. Schwartzel's effort is much better, getting right back to pin high and leaving 15 feet or so for birdie.

  • 11:27
    Over at the par three fourth Cabrera-Bello has made his first bogey of the day to drop back to -2. The wind is continuing to get up now and some rain is on the way. It's tough. McIlroy is making it look easy.
  • 11:29
  • 11:31

    McIlroy's long birdie effort is bang on line but comes up just short and he settles for a par to remain at -2 and three back.

    Johnson's short par putt slipped past the left edge and he now slips back to +3 and in danger of missing the cut.

    Finally, Schwartzel's birdie effort starts left and never comes back meaning he remains at -2 after dropping three shots in the last two holes.

  • 11:31
    Kevin Re drop, the ball must be plugged in the ground for free drop not plugged in its own impression in thick grass
  • 11:32
    Thanks Kevin. It's an interesting one because the R&A rule it differently to the PGA Tour or the European Tour. Indeed, when the referee told Shcwartzel, the South African laughed, as did Johnson. However, McIlroy knew the rule after growing up playing in a lot of R&A events.
  • 11:35

    At the eighth McIlroy spears a gorgeous high draw down the fairway with a driver, leaving another perfect angle into the green.

    Johnson hooks his tee shot way left into the long grass while Schwartzel has winged his way right and into the hay. The South African is really really struggling now after that great start.

  • 11:38

    At the 11th it's another bogey for Fowler - his third in four holes - and he's now +2 after getting up to -1 for the day and seemingly moving up the leaderboard.  

    There aren't many players moving forward out on the course with these conditions but Kuchar is managing to keep it going nice and solid at -5 after 11 holes. However, that could change at the par three 12th as he flies a lovely tee shot in to 10 feet.

  • 11:42
    At the eighth McIlroy's approach from 171 yards starts way out to the right but is absolutely battered by the breeze back into the front left bunker. That's going to be a tricky up and down from there.
  • 11:43
  • 11:44
    Bulle is -1 for the day through three holes and just two behind the lead at -3.
  • 11:48

    McIlroy flips a beautiful splash shot out of the bunker, checking it up and allowing it to release out to a foot or so. That's another par in the bag and he stays at -2.

    Over at the 12th Kuchar's birdie effort defies gravity to stay out of the cup on the high side and he has to take a par and remain tied for the lead at -5.

    Meanwhile, it's pars apiece for Schwartzel and Johnson at the eighth to remain -2 and +2 respectively.

  • 11:56
  • 12:00

    McIlroy's iron down the ninth is a lovely low chaser and settles in the first cut on the left.

    From there he still faces 192 yards but arrows a lovely low four-iron approach in to the middle of the green, leaving 25 feet for birdie. A gorgeous shot there.

    Johnson, from the middle of the fairway, sees his approach catch on the wind and fly right into the gallery and the gorse.

    Schwartzel, further up after taking driver, pulls his approach a little left but it catches the edge of the green, leaving a long putt for birdie.

    This wind is absolutely howling now!

  • 12:02
    Bubba Watson and the Open have never got on too well but that could change this weekend. A second birdie of the day at the sixth has him up to -4.
  • 12:06

    Johnson found his ball in the gorse but never shouted fore when it was heading towards the gallery and it hit a spectator. The spectator was, in fact, our own Philip Reid. According to Sky Sports' Wayne Riley he's okay but that will hurt in the morning. On the European Tour you're fined for not shouting fore. If you're hitting a ball towards spectators at over 100 miles an hour it's just absolutely stupid not to shout fore.

  • 12:06
    Kevin Darren Clarke's tips for iron play in wind at openzone yesterday were superb given his early years playing links, I guess a few of his high flight PGA buddies could do with a lesson
  • 12:06
  • 12:08

    Johnson's pitch didn't manage to get onto the green and he has failed to save par from the fringe, so he drops back to +3.

    Schwartzel successful lagged his putt up to a few feet and tapped in for par and he stays at -2.

    McIlroy's long effort is also good for pace and it's another par for him and a superb front nine of 31 (-3) and he remains -2 for the tournament.

  • 12:10

    With that, I shall pass you over to Johnny Watterson for the afternoon. It's been a treat watching McIlroy on the front nine today and let's hope he can keep it going.

    -5: Kuchar (13), Spieth, Koepka

    -4: B Watson (6)

    -3: Bulle (4), Poulter, Thomas, Bland

    -2: McIlroy (9), Schwartzel (9), Li (5) Noren, Matsuyama, Hahn, Kang

    Irish leaderboard: -2 McIlroy (9), +2 Lowry, +3 Harrington, +5 Clarke

  • 12:14
    Good afternoon. And it is a good afternoon. You could have had Rory at 90-1 yesterday after his round of two halves. He is now 11-2 so too late for that bandwagon.
    He's at thew turn and -2 and inside the top 10. Wow!
    Best wishes to out own Philip Reid who copped DJ's ball on the cheekbone. He's from north Dublin and they make them tough around there.
  • 12:15
  • 12:16
    Kuchar rolls a 10 footer just past the cup. Good attempt at the 14th and had it dropped would have given him the lead. Good par on a tough hole. He stays on -5.
  • 12:20
    10th
    Rory's falls into a tight bunker from the tee. His lie is close to the face of the trap so he can't get to the green. His problem is the lip. He swings and the ball pops up but it doesn't have enough length to make the green and he is faced with an up and down from 40 yards out.
    Meanwhile three bogeys and no birdies for Els who cards a 73.
  • 12:24
    DJ's third shot from the greenside bunker at 10 leaves him with some hope with a par putt from 10 feet. Nice par save from DJ.
    Rory's approach is excellent. With the flag at the front he also gets it to about 10 feet for a possible par save
  • 12:26
    It's blowing hard as Rory lines up his putt.. Very much the momentum player, he drills it in. Superb par save and the crowd let him know it as he gives them a little fist pump. They were the ones he was missing on the front nine yesterday.
    Rory -2 thro 10 holes and -3 for today.
  • 12:27
  • 12:28
  • 12:30
    The wind is blowing at 20 mph in some places and dropping to 10 mph in others. At 17, the par 5 and souce of birdies, players are going to find it hard to get up in two as it's right into the teeth of the wind.
  • 12:34

    Bubba drops one and falls back to -2 with back to back bogeys he's going in the wrong direction thro 8 holes.

    Rory finds light rough at 11 from the tee. But his approach is again short and he is faced with another up and down from off the green.

  • 12:34
    Wing now gusting to 28 mph.
  • 12:38

    Kuchar with an eagle putt on 15. He rolls it up but leaves the ball short but has a good birdie stab to take the out right lead. Kuchar drops the short putt and gets to -6.

     

    Rory into the breeze throws it up and it needs to spin. But no check and the ball rolls 12 feet past the pin. Another testing putt from him coming up to save par.

     

  • 12:42

    Projected cut +3. DJ (+3) has a putt on Rory's line for birdie. He doesn't make it but Rory jumps in to get a taste of the line from c;loser in.

    Whow. Another one drops and he saves par. Another fist pump from Rory. Another loud roar from the crowd. That's two long putts in succession to save par. His putting is really holding him in on this back nine. He remains on -2 and four shots behind outright leader Kuchar.

  • 12:47

    12th - Rory punches one into a swirling wind. His ball holds up on a ridge to the right of the pin. But there is no way it is going to stay there in these conditions and it rolls back into the greenside bunker.

    DJ (+3) finds the green and is six feet away with Schwartzel (-1) 25 feet away.

  • 12:49
    Rory has a good lie and he's well back from the bunker face....Good?....he nearly holes it! Beauty it skims the cup and he's two feet away for a par putt.
  • 12:53

    12 - whoops Schwartzel pushes it miles past and has a tester coming back.   He pulls it left. A horrid 4. He's back to level par.

    Rory comes up. Steps away in the wind. Comes back again and drops it from two feet to stay at -2. Brilliant up and down to save.

  • 12:54
    Kuchar gives his shot back almost immediately at 16, failing to roll in one from middle distance. It's a pull left and he goes back to -5 and joint leader with Koepka and Spieth, who have yet to tee off.
  • 12:55
  • 13:03

    13 - 499 yards into the breeze it used to be a par 5. Rory hits driver and it fizz's away. He's not totally sure if he has fairway or not but he's not in serious trouble either way.

    Yes it's in the rough. He muscles it out and for the third hole in a row the ball falls short of the green. He is really testing his up and down game from 40 yards out.

  • 13:04
    Another lovely wedge into the 13th from Rory, this time the ball stopping at the pin maybe four feet away and a much shorter putt to save par.
  • 13:06
    Poulter gets a shout at the first tee. Annoying but popular, he starts on -3 and he finds the rough on the left of the first. A popular spot.
  • 13:07
    Kevin When are the R&A / PGA going to have the cojones to actually penalise these guys for not shouting fore. I hope some spectator sues soon
  • 13:08
    Agreed Kevin. They wave their club left or right and leave it to the caddie to shout. And sometimes he doesn't.
  • 13:10

    Schwartzel falls back to +2 at 13.

    Rory from four feet. Aghhh he pulls it left after all the long putts he has dropped from 12-15 feet range. That's his first bogey and it pulls him back a shot to -1 overall.

  • 13:16
    It's only 200 yards but with the swirling wind it is not so simple. Rory pulls his iron a little left and his ball pops into the greenside rough. He's looking at another up and down from off the green to save par.
  • 13:17
  • 13:21
    No probs for Rory. He puts it to within 12 inches from off the green on the left and the crowd again rise. They really want this Irishman to be contesting on Sunday.
  • 13:31
     Rory wayward of the 15th tee and his ball comes to rest beside a sign post on the course. They are talking about removing the post. Big jaw jaw going on around his ball now.
  • 13:32
    Read online how Irish Times Golf Corr. Philip Reid's cheek bone saved Dustin two shots. Online now in the Irish Times.
  • 13:34
    They are waiting for an Allen key to remove the signpost. Yes that's right, the Open is being held up because there is no Allen key to remove the post. Everyone is confused.
  • 13:36
    Kuchar closes with 71 and -4. That's a good score as conditions worsen and rain is forecast to come in during the afternoon.
  • 13:39
    Rory is in all sorts of trouble at the par 5 15th. His second finds a bunker and he has to chip out for his third. He's well away from the green - about 125 yards - and is looking at a difficult up and down...his wedge stalls and he doesn't even make the green. Big trouble here and a crucial time for his round.
  • 13:40
  • 13:41
    Kuchar's clubhouse -4 is looking better and better as the day goes on.
  • 13:43
    Rory sends his ball up the slope and onto the green. It rolls up to within three feet. That's his fifth shot on 15. He has that for bogey with another par 5 to come at 17. But first things first.
  • 13:45

    Good for Rory. He escapes that 15th with just a bogey. Onto 16.

    Schwartzel's score today is +7

  • 13:45
  • 13:47

    Kuchar -4

    "I pleased to be in the clubhouse with 71," he says.

  • 13:49
    "On these greens you can get a putt that's left to right but get a wind gust that makes it right to left" - Kuchar. "I'm a better player now. It makes my trips over a lot more enjoyable. You cannot simply count out the young guys, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy. They are great players."
  • 13:55
    DJ (=2) over the green from rough on 16. Rory (E) is on the cross path on the fairway. He could move it if he wants but decides to play from where he is. It comes out hot...hot...hot and he's disgusted. He's over the back of the green aswell - with a short wedge.
  • 14:00
  • 14:02

    Rory steps up, steps away again and waits. It is only 3 feet. He steps up and steps away again. The wind. He steps up again for a third time and pulls the trigger. Par. that's a good up and down and he stays ar level par for the tournament.

    Onto 17 another par 5. Two very big wallops.

  • 14:06

    Fine drive from Rory on 17. It is long and it is on the fairway, crucial on his second last hole of the day if he is to claw a shot back and go into minus figures.

    Meanwhile Kuchar says he is going to kick back for the afternoon and watch these guys try to survive.

  • 14:07

    There you go Frank.

    LEADERBOARD

  • 14:10
    Poulter is holding his -3 score together quite well. He's level par thro his first four holes, pars all the way so far.
  • 14:13
  • 14:15
    Cut line keeps moving with some thinking +5 will be it later.
  • 14:18
    The projected cutline is officially +4.
  • 14:22
    17 - Rory has a four foot putt for birdie after missing the green with his third approach. His pitch in was immaculate and he's standig over a four footer. No back off this time, He rolls it in. Nice birdie and he goes back to 1 under par with the 18th hole to play.
  • 14:24
    Rory drives long and slightly left. He's just off the fairway but the ball is stting up nicely for the approach. If he cosies in a par and ends on -1 that's a good score.
  • 14:26
  • 14:28
  • 14:33
    18 - Rory's approach to 18 is 147 yards. He's coming out of whispy rough so a flier is a possibility. It's high and he's talking to it. Hold, hold he says. It obeys this time and he has a 20-25 foot birdie putt from the back on the final green of the day.
  • 14:33
  • 14:39

    18 - Rory rolls is comfortably to 18 inches. There's a smile on his face as he stands back watching Schwartzsel par his three footer for +4.

    Rory finishes with par for -1. That's a massive turn around from yesterday and he strides up towards the referee's office with purpose.

    DJ closes on +3, which will be inside the cut.

  • 14:40
  • 14:43
    The two leaders have yet to tee off. Spieth goes off at   2.48 and Koepka at 3.10. They begin the day at -5 but face testy conditions.
  • 14:46

    "That was right up there. It was really tough out there. the conditions got a little bit rough on the back nine. I was really pleased to make that birdie on 17. I thought if I could stay under par I'd really be in it for the championship." - Rory

    "I've been really happy with the way I've putted. For the most part I held what I needed to. I wanted to continue with that good feeling that I had from the last few holes yesterday."

  • 14:50
    Some umbrellas are beginning to go up at Birkdale.
  • 14:53
    Jordan Spieth (-5) with a 65 on day one is just about to tee off. The joint leader is playing with Stenson and Kim.
  • 14:53
  • 14:56
    What's all this about Koepka not liking golf. He took time off after winning the US Open, went to Vegas with his girlfriend, had fun and now he's joint leader at the British Open.
  • 14:57
  • 15:01
    Poulter at the 8th hole stays at -3 for the tournament, which is really good going from the English player. In these tough conditions holding on to the score will be his challenge today.
  • 15:05
    Spieth. What a start from the American. Bucking the trend he drops the first putt of his second round from six feet to birdie the first hole. That instant impact gives him the outright lead at -6.
  • 15:06
    Mickelson shoots 77 for his second round to add to his first round 73. That puts him out for the weekend. That's just his first missed cut for the fifth time in 24 starts.
  • 15:07
  • 15:09
  • 15:12
    Spieth (-6) finds a fairway bunker on the second hole. He can only chip out for position, which means an up and down from wedge distance coming up.
  • 15:19
    Spieth sticks it close and sinks his putt on the second hole to stay at -1 for the day and hold the outright lead at 6-under.
  • 15:24
    Bubba ended his second round 2-under par for the last four holes and level par overall. A thinner looking Bubba, due to a changed diet, is theerefore with us for the weekend.
  • 15:31
    A steady start for nKoepka (-5) with a solid birdie on his first hole. he is one behind Spieth who has begun his second round birdie, par for -6.
  • 15:34
    3 - Flag out for Spirth. That's optimistic from 20 feet, although, with the blade in his hand he expects. Not this time and he leaves himself a four footer for par.
  • 15:36
    Germany's Thomas Pieters is fast out of the blocks with birdie, birdie on the first two holes. He is the first player to birdie the opening two holes at this years Open. It takes him to a tasty -3.
  • 15:38
    Gary Woodland pitches in with wedge at five to move to -2. The ball nearly cracks the flag pole but it falls in. That raises a cheery roar on a drizzling, blustery day.
  • 15:41

    Spieth makes his first bogey of his Open on the par-4 third hole. That drops him back a shot to -5 and joint leader with Koepka, also on -5 after one hole.

     

  • 15:42
  • 15:47
  • 15:50
    Spieth on the 4th rolls one past the cup for birdie. You got to believe once they strar dropping - if they do- he could post s decent score. He settles for par. That's one birdie and one bogey for -5.
  • 15:53
    Brendan Though it might be depressing, please keep us up to date with the Paddies
  • 15:55

    In case the +'s were removed in last post that should read.

    The cut line remains at +4


    Lowry +3 thro 1
    Harrington+ 5 thro 5
    Clarke+ 6 thro 5

  • 15:56
  • 15:57
  • 15:58
    No change at the top of the leaderboard. Koepka and Spieth lead The Open on -5. Spieth has played four holes, Koepka two holes.
  • 16:00
  • 16:10
    Zach Johnson reveals how a spot of anger management helped turn around his fortunes after a 66 that WILL NOT  ** be bettered today.

    “After my round (on Thursday) I went to the range and hit a lot of drivers and hit a lot of good ones too. I got mad, too, which was good. I let it out, I was upset. I wasn’t furious and bouncing off the walls but I was just upset with my performance because I felt great coming into the week.

    “My saving grace yesterday was, I guess, it couldn’t be a whole lot worse. Today was solid, there were so many positives. I don’t know where to start. It was a lot of fun.”


    ** Commentators curse  

  • 16:15

    After 11 straight pars, which is remarkable in itself given the conditions, Ian Poulter rolls in a long birdie putt at the 12th and is now only one behind Spieth and Koepka. Here are the latest scores on the doors…

    -5 Spieth (5), Koepka (4)                            

    -4 Kuchar (18), Poulter (12), Bland (2)

    -2 Ramsay (18), Pieters (6), Matsuyama (4), Kang (1)

    -1 Connelly (18), Mcilroy (18), Woodland (6), Hahn (2), Streb (4.05pm)  

  • 16:20

    And what of the Irish out on the course? Well it’s not looking great at the moment, to be honest. With the cut projected to be four over, Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry are both one outside the mark (after six and three holes respectively) while Darren Clarke is another one further back after seven.  

  • 16:25

    Spieth’s approach to the sixth from the middle of the fairway leaves him scratching his head as it comes up well short. But he makes short work of the up and down and that’s another par safely under his belt.  

  • 16:36

    The rain is coming down now at Birkdale, and things have just got a little more interesting. The early starters will be enjoying watching this from the comfort of the clubhouse.  

  • 16:40

    Spare a thought for Todd Hamilton, who is currently bringing up the rear on 18 over (79, 79). The 2004 winner was a journeyman before claiming the Claret Jug and returned to one pretty much straight away afterwards. Asked a couple of year’s back, when he had long since dropped off the main PGA Tour circuit, how the journey since his playoff victory had been Hamilton told Golf Digest.   "Terrible. It's been trying, I guess. There have been days where I didn't want to play."

  • 16:44
    We now have just 13 players under par, and with nine of them still out on the course it could well be even less by the time the day is over. Justin Thomas is one of those going backwards, and in a hurry. Starting the day on three under, the dapper dan is now five over for the tournament, a 9 (nine!) at the sixth not exactly helping his cause.  
  • 16:48

    Justin Bland has never made the cut in a major, but you’d fancy his chances today. With two early birdies is now tied for the lead on five under.

    -5 Spieth (7), Koepka (5), Bland (4)

    -4 Kuchar (18), Poulter (14)

    -3 Kang (3)

    -2 Ramsay (18), Matsuyama (5)

    -1 Connelly (18), Mcilroy (18), Pieters (8), Streb (2)  

  • 16:50
  • 17:00

    Brooks Kopeka drops a shot at the sixth, leaving Spieth and Bland on top of the leaderboard. The cut, meanwhile, has pushed out to five over which is good news for Harrington and Lowry who will scrape in if things stay as they are.  

  • 17:06

    If you’re going to go down, you may as well do so with style. At least that’s Phil Mickelson’s story after he finishes on 10 over. “It’s just one of those things where if it starts going bad in these conditions, it’s just going to go bad,” the American, without a win since 2013, said after his round. “It’s not that big a deal. Unfortunately it’s the first cut I’ve missed this year and I missed it with flair. I was surprised because I really thought Thursday I was prepared. I felt like I was ready. I thought I had a good game plan. I thought my game was sharp. But obviously it wasn’t.”

    Other big names who look like they’ll have the weekend off include Patrick Reed (+8), Louis Oosthuizen (+10) and Byrson Dechambeau (+14).

  • 17:21

    Spieth on the 10th freewheeling. He takes an iron off the tee but looks unsure of where it goes. A wry smile there. It could be in the bunker though.

    Poulter joint leader (-4) on 16 finds the fairway bunker, or, just above it. Terrible stance, terrible lie, he slashes out and it shoots sideways. His approach though is good and he has a par putt.

  • 17:23
    Spieth (-4) can only go sideways from the bunker on 10 and does as the rain lashes down. The players are now hitting their shots and sprinting under the umbrella of their caddie.
  • 17:24
  • 17:25
    Spieth's third shot on 10 is wayward and bounces into the bank behind and right of the pin. Good chance he will drop a shot here unless he finds an unbelievable off the green putt back towards the flag.
  • 17:26
  • 17:32

    Did we doubt Spieth for a minute? His putt turned out to be a chip from the back and side of the 10th green. Pressure to make par the ball goes up in the air and rolls in. Fabulous save and the crowd like it too. He stays at -4 with Kuchar (f), Koepka (8) and Bland (7).

    Poulter was there but has just dropped his first shot at the 16th hole. It all came from the terrible lie beside the faiway bunker when the ball just squirted out to the side. He falls to -3.

  • 17:33
    Play has been temporarily suspended at The Open. Too much rain.
  • 17:35
    The groundsmen are out with thier equipment to push the water off the greens. The players, however, are not leaving the course so hopefully the delay will be short as the greenkeepers clear the pools of water off the greens primarily.
  • 17:36
  • 17:38
  • 17:41

    Darren Clarke has made a dramatic moive in the right direction. The former Claret Jug winner has birdied 10 and 11 to go to +4 a shot above the projected cut.

    Lowry is on the cut line with +5 after 8 holes and Harrington one shot below. He is +6 after 11 holes.

     

  • 17:44

    Bubba is getting tetchy again at his press conference:


    "I just didn't want to come up here. It's the same questions every week. Hey how did you feel about your round?"

  • 17:45
    The hooter sounds, which means they are playing again.
  • 17:48
    Bogey on the 8th from Bland drops him back to -3. Not a great beginning after the wetaher break. The good news for Irish fans is that the field is nudging back towards Rory, who is -1 in the clubhouse.
  • 17:50

    -4 Kuchar, Spieth, Koepka

    -3 Poulter, Matsuyama, Bland

    -2 Ramsay, Kang

    -1 Connelly, McIlroy, Woodland

  • 17:56
    A word on Lowry. He had an horrific start with bogey at the first and double bogey at the third. But since then he has steadied the ship and has made par at five holes in a row. He's +3 and playing the 9th.
  • 18:00

    The blade rewards Spieth on 11. When he's hot he's hot and he drops a mid range stab after being disappointed with his approach, which hit the heart of the green.

    His second birdie of the round puts him one shot ahead of the field on -5.

  • 18:03
    Poulter is walking down the 18th on level par for the day, which leaves him well in the hunt at -3. He's just two shots off leader Spieth and he'll be pleased with his raft of par holes along with a birdie on 12 and a bogey on 16.
  • 18:06
    Spieth is staring down another birdie at 12. His iron at the par 3 has landed well inside birdie putt range. Prepare for a two shot lead from the American.
  • 18:07
    Poulter's first poor shot of the round. His approach to 18 goes way left into rough. Up and down from him for par.
  • 18:09
    Just when we had him home and hosed Poulter has to find a great recovery. He nails his recovery and the ball settles just a few feet from the cup. The crowd rise to his fabulous wedge.
  • 18:11

    Poulter closes with a round of 70. Very controlled in trying conditions he ends the day on -3. He looks pleased.

    Meanwhile that short putt on the par 3 12th hole? Spieth makes it. Of course he does and it pushes him two shots out from the field. He's now -6 and feeling very comfortable. That's birdie in the last two holes.

  • 18:13
    "You're Rory McIlroy. What the foxtrot are you doing." Sky clean up what Rory's caddie JP actually said to him in the first round when things were going pear shaped.
  • 18:17
  • 18:19

    Leaders -


    -6 Spieth


    -4 Koepka, Kuchar


    -3 Poulter, Bland


    -2 Ramsay, Kang


    -1 Connelley, McIlroy, Stenson, Matsuyama

  • 18:21
    Birdie on the 10th takes Lowry to +4 and above the cutline. he needs to get his driving sorted. His stats say 25 per cent of fairways hit.
  • 18:22
    Double bogey from Clarke on 13 - same as yesterday -pushes him to +6 and below the cutline. Harrington is also on +6.
  • 18:23
  • 18:25
    Koepka makes the most of a good drive at 12 and stitches his iron to inside 8 feet. Good birdie chance for the American US Open winner.
  • 18:28
  • 18:30
    Whow says Spieth at the par 3 14th. His ball disappears into a bunker. It is pretty certain he has never played in weather like this.
  • 18:32
    So far McIlroy's -2 for the second day is bettered only by Zach Johnson's -4.
  • 18:34
    Koepka (-4) drives off at 13 hoping against hope. There has been just one birdie on this hole today making it the hardest on the course.
  • 18:37
    Spieth in the bunker at 14 gets out okay. But from the wet sand he leaves it short. Will be disappointed and needs a 12 foot putt to hold par.
  • 18:38
    Sorry about that. Don't get alarmed. A 12 foot putt and Jordan Spieth, you know the rest.
  • 18:39
    Well, he skims the ball past the cup and drops a shot. That's Spieth. So he falls back to -5 but still leads the Open field thro 14 holes.
  • 18:48
  • 18:49
    Only 10 players are under par. Spieth on -5 leads.
  • 18:52
    "I felt very balanced. I didn;t feel that balaced on the range. I done a great job front 9. It was a massive save on the 9th hole. The putt from 35 feet was crucial. It was nice to go out in level par. We had some nasty stuff coming back. It was nice to get a little red number on the card but it was a solid round," Ian Poulter.
  • 18:53
    Spieth tops his approcah to the 15th and surprise suprise the ball comes to rest about 20 feet from the pin. That's an eagle putt for him coming up.
  • 18:55
  • 18:59

    Spieth shapes up for a sensational finish by holing out with his 20 foot putt on 15 for EAGLE. What a move from the American. He's now three shots ahead of the field on -7.

    Nearest to Spieth is Kuchar on -4 and three behind.

  • 19:02

    LEADERS -

    -7 Spieth

    -4 Kuchar

    -3. Poulter, Koepka, Bland

    -2 Ramsay, Kang

    -1 Connelly, McIlroy, Woodland, Matsuyama.

  • 19:05

    Lowry is battling to stay in for the weekend. He has gone birdie, par, bogey on 13, 14 and 15 to stick on the cutline of +5.

    Clarke is +7 thro 16

    Harrington is +7 thro 16

     

  • 19:06
  • 19:08
    The coronation of Spieth on day 2 is tempting but foolish. There's a lot of foolishness going on.
  • 19:12
    Well just as Lowry had poked his head up to the cut line, two holes have blown him backwards. Bogeys at 12 and 13 have knocked him back to where Clarke and Harrington sit, all on +7. Not good at this stage with a +5 cutline.
  • 19:16

    Spieth has another 20 foot putt on 16 for birdie. The way he's going they expect him to make it...it is right on line but the damp greens just slow it to a halt and it's a tap in par with two holes to play.

    Spieth leads on -7, three ahead of Kuchar -3.

  • 19:20
    Lightening strikes at Birkdale. The tap in two/three footer shoots past and Spieth shows himself to be mortal. That's a shocker from the greatest putter in the game. He shakes his head in disbelief and drops back to -6 but with a par 5 in front of him at 17.
  • 19:24
    Spieth has a dose of end of round jitters. His drive at 17 requires a loud fore left. Yes he shouted.   He's in the heavy rough and although the players apear to be able to power thier way out, he certainly won't get up to the par 5 green in two shots.
  • 19:27
  • 19:27
    That's an adorable name - Alfie Plant
  • 19:29
    Spieth drills it from the rough on 17 - as they do - and the ball lays up safely in front of the bunker. A tidy wedge will give him a birdie look.
  • 19:30

    No other real movers out there folks. No other movers. Its a Spieth show for this hole and the next.

    Darren Clarke cloases on +8 and is out for the weekend.

  • 19:32
    Lowry is further back on +9 with four holes to play and Harrington on +6 is a shot below the cutline on the 18th.
  • 19:38

    Even the heavily supported Open looks rain swept and desolate as many of the punters have left. The players are wrapped in their wet suits and probably hoping to get finished.

    Spieth putts up the slope at 17. he has a three foot putt for par.

  • 19:40

    Harrington agonisingly pitches from off the green and the ball just stops an inch short at 18. He nedded it to go in to stay for the weekend. It looks like McIlroy is the only Irish interest remaining.

    Spieth rolls in his putt on 17 to remain in the lead on -6.

  • 19:41
  • 19:47
    Spieth takes 3-wood on 18 to play for position and miss the bunkers. He's good on the left side rough. All he needs is a solid iron to hit the green and get off the course with a par and a two shot lead.
  • 19:50
    Spieth is 196 yards out and he has to fly bunkers. He hits it into the dimming light ad it falls just short of the green. He can putt or pitch from there.
  • 19:56

    Great effort from Spieth for birdie on 18. His putt from off the green nuzzles up to the cup but stalls. It is a tap in par for the young player who leads the field on -6, two ahead of Kuchar on -4 and five better than Rory on -1.

    That's just about it for the evening FOLKS. Follow the Irish Times tomorrow with a blow by blow account of the weekend action.

    A final LEADERBOARD