Overnight rain meant that the morning starters were greeted by soft conditions at Lytham, and whilst the TV coverage started with assertions that conditions were perfect for scoring, this belied the fact only 3 players were under par at the time coverage started. And such assertions proved to be misguided as the marquee groups negotiated the opening holes. Of the morning starters, Nicolas Colsaerts was the man in closest proximity to the lead overnight. He soon found the going very tough, he was short on his tee shot to the 1st but got up and down for par, he found trouble on the 2nd after a good drive and dropped his first shot, from there he stumbled further with poor iron shots littering his round and ended his round 2 over after a round of 77.
One of the main attractions in the morning was Rory McIlroy, with constant vaunting of him by the TV coverage, and despite an opening par, he was scrambling on his next two hole’s due to errant tee shots with a driver that landed him in trouble in the right rough, on 2 he managed to make par, but on 3 he made bogey, a birdie quickly followed on 4 and he parred 6 to stay even for the day. On 6 he had more driver trouble, this time missing left, and another bogey was lodged on his card, he missed fairway with his driver on 7 to the right but this he was in the semi rough and from there he once again recovered the dropped shot from the previous hole, and he narrowly missed out on a birdie on 8. His tee shot on 9 proved to be the watershed for his round when it found a greenside bunker from which he took 2 to get out of and made double bogey to post a front nine 36. He needed a great back nine to continue the momentum from his opening round, but it wasn’t to be, pars on 10 and 11 were followed by a bogey on 12 which had him falling further back and left him with 6 holes to find some forward movement, he immediately had a chance at birdie on 13 which he failed to convert, and then a misfired tee shot on 14 left him with another bogey. Pars at 15,16 and 18 were split by a bogey at 17 and it left him with a 75 and a big task ahead of him for the weekend if he is to gain his 2nd major which at this stage looks unlikely given his inconsistencies off the tee and position on the leaderboard .
World Number 1 Luke Donald was undoubtedly the other main attraction of the morning an he made an early bogey on 3 to fall back over par, like Rory he got it back on 4 with a lovely putt and another long birdie putt on 5 got him under par and probably kissing the putter he maligned last night, and he made it three birdies in row to move to 2 under and with a wedge in hand on 7 with his third he would have hoped for 4 in a row, it wasn’t to be but a par did no damage to his card, especially as he made another long birdie putt on 8 to move within 3 of the lead and stayed that way with a par on 9 to post the best front nine of the morning with a 31. He started his back nine with a poor tee shot on 10 and a bold approach from the rough that went over the back of the green, from a bad lie he racked up a commendable bogey after failing to make the green with his first attempt from below the green. Par’s on 11, 12 before a shocking turn of events on 13 when thinned his approach to the green into thick, thick grass behind the green from he had to take a drop and dropped a further shot, and his woes continued off the tee on 14 finding thick rough but he was able to salvage a par, he rebounded with a birdie at 15, and then parred his way home to a 36 hole total of 2 under which gives him a chance going into the weekend especially if leaders falter tomorrow.
The big move of the day was from Brandt Snedeker who continued his progress from round 1 with 2 birdies in his opening 6 holes to tie the lead of Adam Scott, he then grabbed the outright lead with a birdie on 7 and followed it up with a par on 8 and a superb birdie on 9 to turn in 30 and with a 2 stroke lead. He maintained that with par on 10, and then moved further ahead with a birdie on 11 to move to 9 under and with a huge chance to open up a substantial clubhouse lead given his blemish free play to that point and he moved 4 clear with a birdie on 12, narrowly missed out on another birdie at 13, before getting a nice break on 14 after a wayward drive found flattened rough to allow him to escape with a par, he didn’t have such luck on 15 but played a wonderful shot out to save par again and further pars at 16, 17 and 18 of the tournament at 18 saw him enter the clubhouse with a five shot lead though with a number of loose iron shots in his mind but more importantly no bogeys through 36 holes. Logic would dictate that he is unlikely to continue such a run deep into tomorrow’s round so it is a question of how he will react to his first dropped shot, my hunch is that he will have a difficult day tomorrow under the heat of Saturday lead at a Major.
One big name who won’t be making an appearance this weekend is Phil Mickleson who carded a wild round of 78 to continue his poor form since the Masters. He will be joined at the exit gates by major champions Angel Cabrera, Trevor Immelman, Lucas Glover, Tom Lehman, Ben Curtis, Martin Kaymer, Todd Hamilton, David Duval, Darren Clarke, Stewart Cink, Davis Love III and Charl Schwartzel.
So to my Ten to follow and their day’s and as all Ten have made it through the cut, my prediction for tomorrow.
Dustin Johnson – 2 bogeys, 12 pars, and 4 birdies all combined for a round of 68 for DJ which assures his place for the weekend, the round was exactly the tonic for him and one he can take great heart in. Yes at 1 over he is 11 off Snedeker, but he is only 5 off the group at 4 under tied for 5th, further comfort comes in the form his final 3 rounds at the Greenbrier being in the 60’s, he is capable of going low on any course so shouldn’t be written. Prediction for tomorrow – Definitely under par, quite likely 67 or better, which could result in a giant leap up the standings.
Tiger Woods – After a making a steady start of 3 pars, Tiger stormed to a birdie with a sublime approach on 4, another birdie was added at 6 but he failed to add another at the par 5 7th as he settled for a par there and he parred his way to 11, the other par 5, but a trio of misjudged shots there led to a bogey 6, pars at 12, 13,14 and 15 followed as it looked like Tiger’s course plotting was only going to yield a one under round, but a birdie on 16 was a precursor for a bit of Tiger magic in the form of an exquisite bunker shot on 18 to finish 6 under. Prediction for tomorrow – Tomorrow is a crucial round for Tiger, his failure in San Francisco was largely due to a poor Saturday performance , but his play has been so assured in the opening rounds, I think tomorrow will see a Tiger charge to the lead going into the final round.
Lee Westwood – Had an extremely uneventful round after an early birdie look on the 1st, he made 16 pars and matched his solitary birdie with a bogey to finish on 3 over and right on the cut line to make it through to the weekend, we have yet to see anything like the best of Westwood so far this week, and I don’t we will despite his presence for the weekend. Prediction for tomorrow – Another round of steady pars and little else in between.
Ernie Els – A quite extraordinary round for Els, he made double bogey twice and still managed post a round of 70, it was a case of the good (plenty of birdies), the bad (bogey on 5 and 6) and the ugly (the double bogey brace) for Els. After all that he is still 3 under and goes into the weekend with a strong of adding to his impressive Open record of top 10’s or better. Predictions for tomorrow – Who knows in truth, Els played in such a way that anything is possible, I am going to predict at least one double bogey or worse for Ernie tomorrow.
Rickie Fowler – It was another struggle for Fowler today and he continued to look uncomfortable throughout his round, he showed great heart in restricting his round to just 2 over. It means he is here for the weekend and he could make a move up the standings if he can find his comfort zone. It looks unlikely however and he could fall further than the standings tomorrow. Prediction for tomorrow – Another struggle, and another valiant effort resulting in a round in the low 70’s.
Miguel Angel Jimenez – Not quite the 66 predicted by me but a back nine of 32 was up there with the best of the day’s performances and if left him sat on level par and within 4 of the group tied for 5th. It was a big leap forward for The Mechanic today and it could well be the springboard to a strong weekend performance. Prediction for tomorrow – I am sticking to my guns and repeating my prediction from today and predicting a round in the mid 60’s for Miguel.
Retief Goosen – A level par round which left at level par for the tournament which would look not bad if you take Snedeker out of the equation, given the way he has played, it would be fair to say he would need players to come back to him to make a move up the leaderboard but if tough conditions were to come and his accumulation of pars continued, he could make inroads. Prediction for tomorrow – Another steady round which will lead to a 2 under par 68.
Tom Watson – Like Westwood, Tom made it through the on the cut line and ensures he will be given a full warm up for the Senior Open at his beloved Turnberry next week. He didn’t quite match my prediction but he created one of the day’s highlights when making birdie on 18 to move to 3 over to the rapturous cheers of the grandstands surrounding that green. Prediction for tomorrow – Perhaps a tough day for Tom with a round of 74 or worse.
Andres Romero – His round of 1 under surpassed my expectations but was undoubtedly helped by the fact he went to the tee knowing that his position on the leaderboard hadn’t been enveloped by others. He has continued his run of cuts made at The Open to 5 from 5 and he will again the benefit of seeing the scoring levels before he tees up, but realistically he will need post a lower score than 69 to make substantial forward movement. Prediction for tomorrow – A round of 72 for Romero tomorrow after a continuation of steady play is hit by a series of mistakes.
Adam Scott – Scott proved not to be put off by the round of Snedeker which saw him trail by 4 before he had teed off, nor was he put of by an early bogey on 3. He parred his way through to 7 where he missed his eagle putt but made the birdie and added birdies at 10 and 11 before a series of pars though to his final hole where he made a glorious approach which he converted into a final birdie to sit one back of Snedeker. Prediction for tomorrow – Scott will lose the magic tomorrow and fall back with a dramatic round of 75 plus as he presses too hard for birdies.
Not two great calls with my two to follow today so hopefully tomorrow’s will fare better. Simon Dyson who made a bold move with a 67 today and Steve Stricker who will move into contention tomorrow with a strong showing.