What a gorgeous Friday we have had here in Kent living up to its name as the ‘Garden of England’, with more sun and blue skies and less clouds and wind than in Dubai — or so I hear from my friends at Gulf News. However, I somehow imagine it is still a little cooler here.
The story of the day is the weather. Once again the chat on the range is all about the unfairness and luck, or rather lack of it, of the draw at The Open (just ask Rory McIlroy. An early then late start on days one and two respectively had you on the right side of the draw, and perhaps got a 1.5-stroke advantage.
Is it not time for the R&A to follow the lead of the US Open and do a two-tee start for the first two days? There is too much at stake this week, in my opinion, to risk an anomaly in the draw.
The 36-hole cut to 70 players and ties fell at one-over with 77 players going through to the weekend, with very calm conditions all day, especially in the windless afternoon meaning the cut fell lower than I predicted.
Who missed the cut?
Here is a rundown on my guys’ performances on Friday:
Brooks Koepka (-5/T12): An eight-birdie 66 saw the four-time major winner get within six of the leader Louis Oosthuizen and four of second placed Collin Morikawa. Brooks has had a quiet time so far this week, but I see him in with a shout over the weekend.
Danny Willett (-4/T17): Three bogeys and four birdies. Danny is well placed and looking better each day in terms of his health and mental wellness.
Ian Poulter (-2/T31): An impressive response after a disappointing first round.
Jazz Janewattananond (-1/T40): Two early birdies on thee and four could have seen Jazz even better after 36 holes.
Rory McIlroy (E/T53): Two bogeys to start. A mental error with the tee shot on 16 and a silly putt on 17 summed up Rory’s day. A great birdie on the home hole again for the second consecutive day to get Rory in for the weekend without sweating to make the cut. His wedge play is improving but it is still work in progress. Rory seemed excited to have the crowds back and to receive all the home support. He hit no balls on the range after his round and I reckon he is happy with his game. It just has not gone his way for the first 36 holes. Expect an attacking Rory from the first tee on Saturday.
Padraig Harrington (E/T53): A four-birdie 32 back nine showed a typical fighting spirit from the Ryder Cup captain. After 20 holes he stood at three-over and looking like missing the cut. Well played Padraig, he really loves a challenge.
Matt Fitzpatrick (E/T53): A steady performance from Matt. We were all expecting more from him this week, but we still have 36 holes to play.
Henrik Stenson (+2): Two sixes on the front nine stalled Henrik and the two birdies on the back nine was frustratingly just one short of making the weekend.
Victor Perez (+2): Missing the cut by one shot is a disappointment for Victor in his quest to make Harrington’s Ryder Cup team in September. Margins are so small in this game. Always were and always will be.
Branden Grace (+3): Round one did the damage for Branden, who I expected better things from this week.
Gary Woodland (+3): Three consecutive birdies on Gary’s last three holes meant he only just missed the cut, but it was not Gary’s week.
The weather forecast for the weekend looks almost beach weather with modest winds only. This is not links golf as we know it!
Does the R&A quicken the greens and hide some pins away to ‘protect’ the golf course? I hope not, but you never know.
With a quality leaderboard after 36 holes, we are in for a real treat this weekend. The top two — Louis Oosthuizen and Collin Morikawa — are out last tomorrow at 3.55pm (6.55pm UAE time). Enjoy the show!
1 Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) -11
2 Collin Morikawa (USA) -9
2 Jordan Spieth (USA) -8
T4 Dylan Frittelli (RSA) -7
T4 Dustin Johnson (USA) -7
T4 Scottie Scheffler (USA) -7
T7 Daniel Van Tonder (RSA) -6
T7 Emiliano Grillo (ARG) -6
T7 Marcel Siem (GER) -6
T7 Andy Sullivan (ENG) -6
T7 Justin Harding (USA) -6