It was a scene repeated time and again Friday as winds off the Irish Sea whipped across Royal Birkdale, buffeting the
With gusts of 30-plus mph, and sheets of rain in the late afternoon, the tournament's second round was closer to round fore.
Spieth, who played in the afternoon, said he was "very satisfied" to be leading at this point and he would have gladly stayed on the couch and accepted even par if he could have. He wound up doing one better.
"Not on the good end of the draw, but we seem to have grinded it out," he said. "I don't know if we'd be in any better score if I was on the other side of the draw. You just don't know where your breaks fall and where they don't."
There were 39 players under par to begin the day, and just nine to end it. Ten players finished Friday at even par. Play was suspended for 10 minutes at 5:30 p.m. local time because of heavy rain.
“A good day to sit at home and watch a movie,” said American
"With this wind," he said, "this golf course is just a beast."
Somehow, Kuchar tamed the beast — or at least survived it. He was in a three-way tie for first at five under after the opening round, then took a baby step backward with a one-over 71 in the second, finishing his round by midday before the really nasty stuff in the afternoon, when at times spectators had to hold their umbrellas sideways to stay dry.
"I think that's one of the cool things over here, whether it's Thursday or Friday, whatever your morning round is, getting to go back to the room, put on the TV and watch the guys play in the afternoon, and particularly in tough conditions," said Kuchar, who twice dropped to six under Friday but gave those strokes back with bogeys.
"What stood out to me was the 12th hole, it was a par-three," Kuchar said. "I think it was playing about 162 yards today. Wind was in off the left. I pulled a five-iron. And there's a hill right of the green with nasty, weedy grass that you just don't want to be in. So I must have aimed 30 yards left of the pin into the crowd, hit a shot, started at the crowd, and stayed at the crowd for a long time before finally the last, I'd say, 20 yards started drifting over, and ended up in the middle of the green."
Two putts, and par.
Not everyone was able to compensate for the wind with such aplomb. There were the rare exceptions, such as Zach Johnson shooting a 66, but there were blue (bogey) and dark blue (double bogey) numbers all over the scoreboard.
"It's just one of those things where if it starts going bad in these conditions, it's just going to go bad," said Mickelson, who finished at 10 over for the tournament and missed the cut. "It's not that big a deal. Unfortunately, it's the first cut I've missed this year and I missed it with flair."
A turning point came after the sixth hole, when McIlroy's caddy, J.P. Fitzgerald, spoke up. "You're Rory McIlroy! What the … are you doing?"
"I said, `Yeah,'" McIlroy said. "At that point I mumbled and said, `Whatever.' But it did, it helped. It definitely helped. It kept me positive. So he did a great job."
On Friday, he looked like the old McIlroy again, with birdies on three of the first six holes. He cooled a bit on the back with a couple of bogeys, but added one final birdie to end the day at one under.
Poulter finished second in the Open here in 2008 but has not won a tournament since 2012 and nearly lost his
The Englishman shot even par Friday to put him near the top of the leaderboard at three under, and the fans showed their appreciation.
"It feels absolutely marvelous, it really does," he said. "Walking up 18, just walking from greens to tees was really pretty special today. Huge galleries and they were really pulling for me. So it was really nice to be in position, keep churning out decent scores and keeping myself on the board."
Poulter was especially touched that a young fan, maybe 5 or 6, followed him at the ropes for his entire match, braving the storm to watch him play.
"He was in a little yellow jacket, it was pouring down with rain, he didn't have an umbrella, but with his dad," Poulter said. "And he kept saying, `Come on, Poults. Come on, Poults.' I mean, that's nice.
"These fans are hardened fans to any kind of condition, and for them to stay out in these cold, windy, rainy conditions, it's special. And they definitely help you along the way. Because it's not easy out there right now."