Friday, July 20, 2018

Afternoon weather divides British Open scoring

TROON, Scotland — Jason Day went through four pairs of gloves, trying desperately to stay dry in the pounding rain. At one hole, he accounted for the howling wind by aiming his shot toward the Irish Sea.

Call it the luck of the draw at the British Open.

Even in their dotage decades from now, the golfers who got cursed with afternoon tee times Friday in the second round at Royal Troon might be able to tell of the unfairness of it all. They might end up exaggerating wind speeds and rain sheets, but they won't have to by much.

As Phil Mickelson spent a second straight day atop the leaderboard at 10-under 132 after shooting 2-under 69 in the mornings, the leaderboard spent much of the afternoon and early evening in stagnation. Because the angry Scottish sky reserved its most zestful malevolence for mid to late afternoon

"You've got to understand that some people get lucky, some people get unlucky," said Day, the world's top-ranked player and one of only four to break par in the afternoon, shooting 1-under 70 for 1-over 143. "You've got to take what you get and roll with it and try to do the best job you can."

One after another, those who endured the worst of it tried to describe what they had just been through, many looking dazed.

Jordan Spieth, having made the cut on the line at 4-over 146 after shooting 75, moaned about "sheets of water moving sideways" as he stood at the 16th tee.

Rory McIlroy, one of the biggest hitters in the world, had a drive that went only 230 yards after getting caught up in the gusts. During the worst of the weather, he dropped four shots on Nos. 9-13. He shot 71 and was 2 under.

Day didn't even bother trying to reach the green in two shots at No. 15, the longest par 4 on the course at 499 yards.

This year's Masters champion, Danny Willett, said after shooting 75 to make the cut on the line, "Whenever your umbrella's horizontal trying to keep the rain off you, it's always going to be a tricky one."

Paced by Mickelson, the top 14 on the leaderboard at day's end all had morning tee times.

"It was ridiculous," said Justin Rose, who struggled to 77 after shooting 68 the first day and was 3 over. "You know when you see such a disparity between the draw and you see no name from this side of the draw popping up, it's just frustrating."

McIlroy, who complained about links golf after playing in bad weather at Royal St. George's five years ago, has come to grips with the capriciousness of the British Open. "Some draws go your way, and some draws don't," he said, remembering how fortuitous he was during his win at Hoylake in 2014. "I got the good end of the draw, and good things happened that week. Then this year, it's not so much. But I just said out there, 'I'm not going to let being on the wrong side ruin my mood or ruin my week.' "