It was a gray, misty, and essentially windless Friday at Royal Portrush, and scores were about as low as they’re likely to get. A pair of hirsute, barrel-chested gentlemen are leading the way, but 24 players are within five of them heading into Moving Day. It should be a fun weekend. Let’s run through the key storylines.
Beards and Srixon hats
There weren’t many low scores in the afternoon wave, but Shane Lowry managed just fine. The big Irishman went out in 31 on Friday and found himself two shots clear of the pack through 13 holes. Two bogeys on the way in meant that he settled for a second consecutive 68, but he’s still in the final group on Saturday.
J. B. Holmes maintained his position at the top with a second-round 68. The Kentucky native had five birdies and zero worm burners on Friday, two stats that usually lead to success. This will be the second time Holmes has led after 36 holes at a major championship, the first coming at the 2008 PGA Championship (h/t Justin Ray). Open Championship Leaderboard
Englishmen, through thicc and thin – A trio of Her Majesty’s subjects—Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, and the beautiful one, Lee Westwood—positioned themselves well today. Tied for third at -7, Fleetwood and Westy should be paired together tomorrow. John Huggan believes it’s okay to hope for a Westwood triumph, and who are we to contradict Huggy Bear? Rose sits at -6 and has got to feel good about being the only world top-10 player currently in the top five in the championship.
New number, who dis? – Brooks Koepka hung around with a 69 but couldn’t quite make his Scotty behave. “I didn’t make a putt all week,” he said afterwards. “I just need to figure that out. If I can make some putts, I could very easily be 10 under, and really maybe more.” As it is, he’s five under and three back. In other news, Eldrick sent Brooksy a text, and Brooksy didn’t reply. It was all very dramatic.
Army golf – In spite of hitting 35% of his fairways, Jordan Spieth slapped together a 67 to get himself within three of the lead. The 2017 Champion Golfer seems to have a healthy putter, but the rest of his game is covered in Neosporin and bandages. We’ll see how he fares if the wind kicks up a bit this weekend.
Dylicious Frittata – While he faltered on his last two holes, Dylan Frittelli continues to make the most of his last-minute Open berth. He’s at -5, tied with Koepka and Spieth, and looking for his first career top 30 in a major.
Gave it to ’em – Xander Schauffele put on a clinic. After starting Friday outside the cut line, X made four birdies and an eagle on his way shooting 65 and tying Justin Harding, Rory McIlroy, and Kevin Streelman for round of the tournament so far. The 25-year-old Schauffele sits at -3. In half of his 10 career majors, he has finished inside the top six.
Lovely trousers – Erik van Rooyen rocked an arresting pair of red joggers today, and at his press conference, he was interrogated about them with hilarious rigor. (Maybe the questioner was the same guy who went all Woodward-and-Bernstein on Rahm’s Wimbledon get-up?) We here at The Fried Egg are known for our avant-garde fashion, so we applaud van Rooyen for joining us on the cutting edge.
No work this weekend
Rory come lately – It was cool to see McIlroy recover his form and cause a stir at Royal Portrush. His five-birdie back nine was a blast to watch and brought him within a shot of making the cut. Ultimately, though, his second-round 65 wasn’t quite enough to overcome his (now even more inexplicable) first-round 79. During his interview with Steve Sands afterwards, he got a little choked up, and understandably so.
Tap your heels together three times – Among the names missing the cut were the biggest of all: Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. Neither played too poorly today. Phil drained a sizable putt on 18 to card a 75. Tiger had a strong round, a one-under 70, but it would have felt better if he hadn’t gone bogey-bogey on his last two holes. This is the first time these two have missed the cut in the same major. After the round, Tiger told the media that he did not plan to play again until the FedEx Cup playoffs in August. “I just want to go home,” he said.
Lehman’s last – In a more expected MC, 1996 Open champion Tom Lehman finished at +12 in what might be his final Open Championship. With his son caddying for him, he putted out on the 18th green with tears in his eyes.
Praying for wind
Andy explains how Harry Colt’s design at Royal Portrush uses both subtle and dramatic dimensions of its beautiful terrain to present challenges to the world’s best golfers. But he also beseeches the golf gods to deliver the one last thing that would take this Open Championship from great to sublime: wind. Full story
Five thoughts from Friday at the Open
Andy had himself a productive day! Check out his assorted Friday thoughts, which include an ode to Westy and a reflection on the Spieth-Koepka contrast. Full story
There are other golf tournaments. At the time of publication, Jim Herman leads one of them, and Kristoffer Ventura leads another. The Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, an LPGA team event, has a crowded leaderboard that features Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel toward the top.
You know who loved width and angles? Harry Colt, architect of Royal Portrush. And we like to think he would have rocked the vintage navy Width & Angles t-shirt from our pro shop on the regular. We have a heather white option, too….