The Open: The lucky few and the race to catch Mickelson
We look back at the second round of The Open and pick out five of the biggest talking points.
Luck of the draw
How the morning starters like Stenson and Mickelson benefited. Mickelson may not have mirrored his near record-breaking performance on Thursday, but a 69 on Friday was still enough to keep him in the lead.
Stenson, meanwhile, took full advantage of the morning conditions and rocketed up 10 spots to second place on the leaderboard after firing a 65. He now sits one shot behind Mickelson heading into the weekend.
Those who started in the afternoon had to brave their way through bad weather and this impacted their rounds. Rory McIlroy managed a level-par 71, which put him in a tie for 15th, while Day recorded a 70. Spieth particularly struggled on Friday as he registered a four-over-par 75.
Surviving the cut
The cut line dropped as the day progressed and guys like Danny Willett, Bubba Watson, Spieth and Colin Montgomerie all just made the cut, when it looked like they wouldn't.
It was tough going for all of them in the second round as reigning Masters champion Willett, Spieth and Montgomerie all carded 75s. Watson fared even worse as he fired a 76. Nonetheless, the quartet will consider themselves lucky to be playing on the weekend.
Just talking about how good Stenson's round isn’t enough. The Swede was in fine form on Friday as he made seven birdies and a bogey. While he did play in more favourable conditions, it does not take away from the fact that he blew the competition away and sliced Mickelson’s three-stroke lead at the beginning of the day to just one by the time play concluded.
It is also worth noting that Stenson is on the hunt for his maiden major title and prior to The Open, he withdrew after the first round of the U.S. Open and failed to make the cut in the two tournaments he played before that at the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players Championship.
With Stenson just one stroke adrift of Mickelson, the 40-year-old will be fancying his chances of landing his first major title.
Mickelson didn't fade away
How at 46 years of age, Mickelson did not fade away on Friday and kept his lead is nothing short of extraordinary.
Mickelson last won a major back at The Open in 2013 and after firing a near record-breaking 63 in the first round, which was followed by a 69 on Friday, Mickelson is still one stroke ahead and in a promising position heading into the weekend.
The only question that remains is whether Mickelson can hold on to his lead as the pressure builds on Saturday and Sunday. The answer to that will be revealed in due time.
Zach Johnson might actually win this thing… again
Defending champion Zac Johnson is right in contention and could relive the fairytale of winning The Open all over again.
While retaining the title is a feat that has been accomplished numerous times since The Open’s inception in 1860, it is a lot easier said than done.
Johnson currently sits in fifth place and is five strokes behind Mickelson, but should he continue to stay solid and keep himself in contention after the third round on Saturday, then a victory on Sunday may be on the cards.
Rory McIlroy leads the way in Abu Dhabi as he eyes overdue victory
McIlroy will have to keep his Ryder Cup team-mates at bay if he is to claim the trophy.
Tyrrell Hatton dominant as Rory McIlroy falters in Abu Dhabi
Hatton led by five shots at the end of a second weather-affected day.
Phil Mickelson on Tiger’s latest surgery: ‘I feel bad because golf should be a game of a lifetime’
Mickelson admitted he was saddened by the news of Woods’ latest back surgery.
Rory McIlroy makes brilliant start to fog-affected Abu Dhabi Championship
McIlroy has a remarkable record in Abu Dhabi with four second-place finishes.
Rory McIlroy shines in Abu Dhabi to take first-round lead following flawless 64
McIlroy has a remarkable record in Abu Dhabi with four second-place finishes, three thirds and a fifth in his last nine starts, but has never won.
Justin Thomas on end of Ralph Lauren deal: ‘They moved on so that’s what I’m doing as well’
Justin Thomas said he was upset by...
My last win feels a long time ago – Rory McIlroy aiming to start year on a high
McIlroy has not tasted victory since November 2019.
Rory McIlroy insists Justin Thomas will ‘try to be better’ after homophobic slur
World number three Thomas was heard using a derogatory word towards himself after missing a par putt in Hawaii.
Rory McIlroy backs Tiger Woods to make quick recovery from latest back surgery
McIlroy expects the American to be fit for the Masters in April.