Less than 24 hours after being cruelly denied a place in the record books, former champion Phil Mickelson did make history to set the clubhouse target of ten under in the second round of the Open Championship. Mickelson added a second round of 69 to his opening 63 for an impressive 10-under-par halfway total of 132, one shot lower than the previous best at Royal Troon set by American Bobby Clampett in 1982 and equalled by Darren Clarke in 1997.
However, that was only good enough for a one-shot lead over Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who carded seven birdies and one bogey in a superb 65 to finish nine under par. Rory McIlroy hit a level par second round of 71 to remain on -2 as the weather played havoc for those drawn to play in the afternoon session.
Padraig Harrington sits on even par while Darren Clarke is one over par and Graeme McDowell finds himself four over par. All three will be playing during the weekend after the projected cut gradually moved out as the afternoon wind and rain led to bogeys galore.There was no such luck for Shane Lowry (+7) or Paul Dunne (+13), who both missed the cut.
Lowry birdied the first two holes of his second round to suggest a revival was on the cards but he parred ten holes in a row before bogeys at 13 and 16 condemned him to an even par round.
Mickelson has not won a tournament since lifting the Claret Jug at Muirfield in 2013, but feels he is more than capable of becoming the fourth oldest major champion in history on Sunday.”We’re only halfway done with the tournament so it’s too far off to start thinking like that, but certainly there is nothing more that I would love to add another Claret Jug.” the 46-year-old said. “I think there is a lot of pressure off me given the fact that I’ve already got one.”
He had come agonisingly close to making history yesterday, his birdie putt on the 18th to record the first 62 in any major championship caught the edge of the cup and lipped out. The resulting 63 was the 28th such score in majors and the first in the Open since Rory McIlroy’s opening round at St Andrews in 2010, which the Northern Irishman famously followed with an 80 in winds gusting up to 40 miles per hour which forced play to be suspended.However, Mickelson was never in danger of suffering such a fate as a testing early breeze – in the opposite direction than yesterday – swiftly died and allowed him to extend his overnight lead to five shots with birdies on the fourth, seventh and eighth, the latter coming after his tee shot on the ‘Postage Stamp’ span back to within inches of the hole.
Wayward drives on the 12th and 15th led to Mickelson’s first dropped shots of the championship and allowed Stenson to close to within a shot, with Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen two strokes further back.
The Open continues tomorrow.