Fowler manages to outdo Spieth, by somehow hitting an even worse tee shot at 16. His lands in the bunker front right: not the one guarding the green, but the trap in front of it. Up against a tall face, it’s all he can do to bash out onto the green. He’s left with a 30-footer for par, and his effort shaves the hole. He slips back to -3.
Xander Lombard loops high towards the back of the green, and holds the putting surface, just. He’ll have a 25-footer across the green for his par … but he doesn’t hit it. He also drops back to -5. And Tony Finau crashes a monster drive down 14, then wedges onto the green. Two putts, and he takes Lombard’s place as co-leader! Meanwhile an eagle on the par-five for his partner Xander Shauffele, who joins the chasing pack.
-6: Z Johnson (F), Kisner (F), Finau (14)
-5: Fleetwood (F), Perez (F), Lombard (12)
-4: McIlroy (F), van Rooyen (F), Fowler (15), Schauffele (14)
Jordan Spieth gets that result. He stabs a perfectly weighted chip down off the bank and across the green. He’s away with just a bogey. But back to -3. Co-leader Zander Lombard sends his second at 12 into some snaggly rough to the left of the green. And up on 18, Pat Perez can’t make his par saver, but that’s a fine 68 today and he’s a shot off the clubhouse lead.
Spieth’s nearly 50 yards wide right of the green, chipping over bunkers. What a place to find yourself on a par three. And finally it catches up with him: his wedge clips the top of the bunkers and snags in the rough on the shoulder. An up and down for bogey will seem like a result now.
What’s Spieth done here? Sliced his tee shot miles right of the par-three 16th, that’s what. He really does like setting himself tasks, doesn’t he. I wonder how he’ll get up and down from where he is, deep in the gallery. Up on 18, the co-leader Perez finds his drive up against the face of a bunker. He takes his medicine, chips out sideways, then sends his third straight at the flagstick, maybe 15 feet short. That’s given him a good chance of escaping with a par.
Essential reading II: Here’s our man Andy Bull on the travails of Tiger.
Fowler makes his birdie putt on 14. That’s a ridiculous birdie, really, given how badly he lost his drive to the right, and his struggles to get up the hole thereafter. But what a brilliant third shot! He’s -4. Spieth meanwhile gets up and down from the back of 15, his putter digging him out of trouble yet again. He remains at -4.
Essential reading. Here’s our man Mark Tallentire on Rory McIlroy’s mainly successful battles with the elements this morning.
Spieth continues to drive the ball in the wild fashion. He sends his tee shot at 15 down a bank to the left of the fairway. He blasts his next shot straight at the flag, but it’s coming out hot, and there’s no way it’s stopping on the green. Over the back it goes, though it’s not the hardest up and down to scramble par.
It looks like trouble for Fowler on 14: he slices his drive into deep filth down the right, and can’t get back onto the fairway with his next. But you can’t keep a good man down, and he wedges his third to eight feet, where he’ll have a decent look at birdie. Meanwhile birdie for Finau, putting just off the edge of 12. He’s back to -5, one off the lead.
Spieth blasts a big drive down the middle of the par-five 14th, then whistles an iron over the Spectacles bunkers, straight at the flag. The ball skips past 20 feet, but he’s going to have a great look at eagle. His putt shaves the right-hand edge of the cup. Just (!) a birdie, his fifth of the day. He’s now just two shots off the lead at -4.
Last year’s runner-up Matt Kuchar is making another run at the title. Back to back birdies, at 13 and 14, and he’s -3. His eagle putt on 14 was an inch from dropping, too. Also going very well: Xander Schauffele, who has a major in him, I’ll be bound. Having turned in 35, he clipped his second at 11 to a matter of inches, and tidied up for a birdie that takes him to -2.
Spieth can’t make his birdie putt on 13; Rose can’t save his par. They’re -3 and +4 respectively. As things stand, Rose is away home. Coming behind, Fowler sends his tee shot over the back and into some thick filth. His short game will get a good test from there.
Spieth lands his tee shot at the par-three 13th softly in the middle of the green, 25 feet from the flag. His playing partner Justin Rose is hovering just above the cut line at +3: toppling into a deep bunker’s not going to help that situation at all. He does extremely well to splash out to ten feet. Meanwhile Tony Finau drops his first shot of the day at 10: he slips to -4.
Webb Simpson went quiet for quite a while after winning the 2012 US Open. But he stormed to the Players Championship in May, and finished in the top ten at this year’s US Open. The North Carolinian is back in form, and he continuing on his merry way here: a 70 yesterday, and he’s just clattered the flagstick from the fairway on 17, setting up a kick-in birdie. He’s -2 for the championship and going well. Elsewhere, Jordan Spieth gets himself into trouble with another poor drive, this time at 12, then gets out of it again with a mammoth two-putt to save his par. He really is a force of nature, refusing to give up any cause.
Pat Perez joins the leading group! He birdies the par-five 14th for the second time this week to move to -6 alongside clubhouse leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, and Zander Lombard. You’d have got quite good odds on these four leading the Open. Especially as Perez has no serious record to speak of in the majors, except for one tilt at the PGA back in 2005. Meanwhile a bounce-back birdie for Rickie Fowler at 11: he returns to -3.
Jordan Spieth on the charge! Another birdie, this time at 11. He’d sent his drive whistling into the rough down the right, but knew he’d have just a wedge into the green even so. He blasts it onto the putting surface, and curls in a 15-footer that never looked like missing. He’s -3, and suddenly just three off the lead, because up on 18, Kevin Kisner can’t make his bogey putt and that’s a closing double. A 70, and he won’t sleep so soundly tonight. He shares the lead with Zach Johnson … and Zander Lombard, who after an average wedge into 7 has just eased in a perfectly-paced 35-footer for birdie!
-6: Z Johnson (F), Kisner (F), Lombard (7)
-5: Fleetwood (F), Perez (13), Finau (8)
-4: McIlroy (F), van Rooyen (F)
-3: Chappell (F), Spieth (11)
Kisner drops and bumps his fourth shot to the right-hand edge of the green. The shoulder of the bunker sends the ball to the left, so he’s on the dancefloor but facing a 20-footer for his bogey. Meanwhile back on 10, Fowler dunks his approach into a bunker and can’t get up and down: it’s back-to-back bogeys, and whatever his partner Rahm’s been suffering from is catching.
Kisner’s drive at 18 finds the thick rough down the left. He’ll want to be careful: that’s where Hideki Matsuyama earlier sent a shot flying out of bounds down the left, his club strangled by the lush rough. He doesn’t replicate that error … but instead goes for the green and doesn’t catch it at all, sending his ball clanking into the wall of the Barry Burn. There’s no Sergio-style lucky bounce back … and this could be a costly end to a very fine round.
On the whole, it’s better if you can keep your cool. Jordan Spieth wings a dreadful drive towards a couple of trees down the left of 10. He’s got a route through them, though it’s tight. And after some calm and considered chat with his caddy, he creams his second between the trunks and onto the green. To ten feet! What a sensational, outrageous escape! And Spieth’s not missing the gentle left-to-right curler. That’s another birdie for the champ, who moves to -2. Meanwhile on 17, the leader Kevin Kisner nearly guides in a gentle right-to-left 35-foot slider, but it lips out unluckily and makes do with par.
Rahm can’t get up and down. He’s just gone 7-4-6: triple bogey, bogey, double bogey. He turns in 41. From -3, he’s now +3, his hopes in tatters. Bogey for Rickie Fowler, too, always out of position down the left of the hole. He’s back to -3. It’s sunny at Carnoustie, but there’s a micro-climate consisting of a few black clouds drifting around the 9th green.
Rahm can only hack out from the sand. Then he pulls his approach left of the green and nearly finds another bunker. It stops just short, but he’ll still have a tricky up and down for bogey. He flings his club with great force at his bag. But he’s a good boy really, and a look of guilt spreads across his face. He goes and picks it up so his caddy doesn’t have to fetch it. That doesn’t stop him putting the club back into the bag with extreme feeling, then storming off up the fairway, but you can understand all that. A promising Open challenge is unravelling at pace here. And anyway, his emotional style is all part of his charm.
Jon Rahm is on a rolling boil now. He sends his tee shot at 9 whistling into a deep bunker down the right of the fairway. He’s up against another face, so considers snapping his driver in half. He holds it in his big hands and bends the shaft. Someone in the gallery reminds him that he may need it later. Rahm thinks again. His noggin’s gone. Meanwhile up on 18, Kevin Chappell signs for a 69. He’s -3 going into the weekend. Eddie Pepperell meanwhile cards a 70, having been catapulted up the leaderboard thanks to an eagle at 14. He’s -1. “Did Van Rooyen call for VAR on the 18th? Or maybe it should be VR&A?” Simon McMahon, ladies and gentlemen. He’s here all week. Try the Arbroath smokies.
Ding! Ding! Dustin Johnson versus Carnoustie, round two! Here’s Kevin Mitchell on how the old links had the last laugh again.
Pat Perez rolls in another birdie putt at 11. The 42-year-old from Arizona, whose best finish at an Open was a tie for 20th the last time the championship was played at Carnoustie, moves to -5, in a tie for third. Meanwhile Jon Rahm’s misery continues: he pushes his tee shot at the par-three 8th into the bunker front right. It’s plugged deep, having slam-dunked into the moist sand. Anything could happen … and he powers it out, hitting the flagstick! But the ball still whistles a good 15 feet past the hole. He can’t make his par saver, and he cocks his head back in extreme irritation. He thinks about hollering an EFF or maybe even a CEE but catches himself at the very last second. He’s +1 now, having lived through an awful, very costly 20 minutes.
Jon Rahm tees it up high on 7, presses BOOM, and flays his drive out of bounds down the left. His reload lands in the semi-rough down the left. Then his wedge in – his fourth shot – is pulled down a bank to the left. He only just gets his chip up onto the green, leaving a missable eight footer. And it drifts off to the right. That’s a triple-bogey seven. He crashes down to level par and is predictably fuming. His partner Rickie Fowler isn’t that much happier, passing up a great opportunity for yet another birdie from ten feet. He stays at -4.
On the 18th green, Erik van Rooyen drops his putter onto his marker and accidentally moves it. He’s not sure of the rule. In the past, that would have been a penalty, but nowadays they estimate where they thought the marker was initially, and everyone moves on without fuss. He signs for a level-par 71, and remains at -4 overall. His playing partner Matthew Southgate signs for a 72: he’s -1.
Back to the players hoping to get their name alongside Sandy’s on the auld Claret Jug. Kevin Kisner is in the box seat right now, making his birdie at the par-five 14th and moving two clear of the clubhouse leader Zach Johnson. He’s -8. Meanwhile Zander Lombard screeches a wedge to a stop by the flag at 3; he moves to -5. Meanwhile the sun’s come out. The spiritual power of a Lyle birdie, in full effect, right there.
Emotional scenes on 18, as Sandy Lyle walks up the fairway for the very last time in his Open career. Having just turned 60, this is the last time the legendary Scot qualifies as a result of his 1985 win. And while he’ll not make the cut, he goes out in trademark style nonetheless, guiding in a 30-footer for a birdie that brings the house down! What a way to go out! He cracks that modest, sunshine smile, just like he did at St George’s all those years ago. That’s a beautiful moment in a career jam-packed with them. Thanks for the memories, Sandy. They’ve been golden.
Missed birdie opportunities for Fowler and Rahm at 5. Fowler will feel better tapping in for par: his effort from 15 feet only just failed to drop. Rahm had wedged gloriously to four feet, only to miss the hole entirely with a very wayward stab. Fowler remains at -4, Rahm -3. This is quite a crowded leaderboard now.
-7: Kisner (13)
-6: Z Johnson (F)
-5: Fleetwood (F), Finau (3)
-4: McIlroy (F), van Rooyen (17), Chappell (15), Perez (8), Fowler (5), Lombard (2)
Kisner regains the lead! He sends a lovely tee shot at the par-three 13th straight at the flag. The ball takes a little kick to the left, and he’s left with a 15-footer for his birdie. No worries! In it goes. He’s -7 again. Jordan Spieth follows up that bonus birdie at 3 by curling in a 20-footer on 5: he’s -1. Pat Perez drains a monster on 8 for birdie: it’s his second of the day after 3, and he’s -4. But a good chance goes begging for Tony Finau, who sends another fine approach to ten feet, but skims the hole with his birdie putt. He remains at -5.
The wind has stopped blowing. All is still. It makes for a different Carnoustie. While the players this morning had to battle the elements, the afternoon starters are suddenly getting the benefit of a defenceless, receptive course. If the breeze doesn’t pick up again – and it was never forecast to get too wild – the next few hours could be quite the ride.
Rickie rolls in his birdie putt! That’s three in the first four holes, and he’s making serious inroads at the top of the leaderboard. As are Kevin Chappell, who birdies the par-five 14th, and Tony Finau, who arrows his approach into 2 straight at the flag, and strokes home the straight uphill putt for birdie.
-6: Z Johnson (F), Kisner (12)
-5: Fleetwood (F), Finau (2)
-4: McIlroy (F), van Rooyen (16), Chappell (14), Fowler (4), Lombard
Danny Willett has responded well to a double bogey at 12. Birdies at 14 and 15 bring him back up to -2. The latest the result of a 30-foot tramliner. Rickie Fowler sets himself up with another birdie chance at 4, screeching a wedge to eight feet. And a fine, pin-high tee shot at the par-three 16th gives the Open debutant Erik van Rooyen a birdie opportunity, but he sends the 12-footer left of the hole. He stays at -4, level par for his round today after yesterday’s heroic 67, his first ever round in a major.
Back-to-back birdies for Matt Southgate, at 14 and 15. He celebrates the second of them in the manner of his namesake Gareth after that penalty shoot-out. He’s -1. Jon Rahm meanwhile bounces straight back with birdie at 3. No par yet for the 23-year-old Spaniard. And another birdie for Rickie at 3: he’s come flying out of the blocks, and has already risen up the leaderboard to -3.
Jordan Spieth is over the back of 3, down a swale. He looks to be in a spot of trouble … but he’s a bit of a genius with the wedge, this lad, and he bumps his ball across the dip and sends it trundling into the cup for an unlikely birdie! That might spark a charge, you know exactly what he’s like. He’s level par for the tournament, and the crowd go wild in celebration of the reigning champ. They know quality when they see it. Meanwhile back on 2, Jon Rahm hands back the shot he picked up on the opening hole, and he’s -2 again.
Kevin Chappell doesn’t have much of a record at the Open. A tie for 53rd at Troon a couple of years ago, plus a missed cut at Birkdale last year. But he’s putting together a challenge this time. A very acceptable 70 yesterday, and now he’s two under for his round today, having turned in 35 and picked up another birdie at 11. He does have top-ten finishes at both the Masters and the US Open on his CV, so it might be prudent to keep an eye on the 32-year-old Californian. He’s -3 right now.
A mistake by Kisner, who pulls an iron down the bottom of a big bank at the rear of 10. A test getting up and down for par from there. He uses his hybrid and putts it up the bank, Todd Hamilton style. Not very successfully, it has to be said, and he pulls the six-foot putt he leaves himself left of the hole. Bogey. This is turning into quite an inconsistent round. One under today so far, he’s parred just one of the last six holes.
-6: Z Johnson (F), Kisner (10)
-5: Fleetwood (F)
-4: McIlory (F), van Rooyen (14), Finau, Lombard
Matsuyama drops, and can only find the fringe of the green with his fourth. He’s left with a long putt across the green for his bogey … and he leaves it a good five feet short. He doesn’t make it, and the triple almost certainly costs him weekend participation. He’s +4. A 73 for Russell Knox, and at +4 the home favourite will also likely be packing his bags. And finally Tiger, who had hit two lovely shots up the hole, leaving himself a straight six-footer for birdie … but he shoves it right. After taking an age to size it up. He’s overthinking some of these putts, it’s not the first time he’s done that this week. Another 71, and he’s level par.
Rickie Fowler makes his birdie putt on 1, and that fast start brings him up to -1. That’s more than Jordan Spieth could manage a few minutes earlier: he remains at +1 after his birdie effort turned away to the left. Fowler is matched shot for shot by his partner Jon Rahm, who rises to -3. Kevin Kisner regains the sole ownership of the lead by raking one in across 9: he’s -7. And potential disaster for Hideki Matsuyama, who had hauled himself well above the cut line with eagle at 14 and birdie at 16. He’s +1 … but has just let the rough down the left of 18 grab the shaft of his club, turn it over, and send his ball hooking out of bounds down the left.
Sure enough, Sergio chips up to three feet. A stunning effort to save his skin. That would have been some story, had that one gone in! But it’s not to be. In goes the par putt: +4 most likely won’t be enough to survive the cut. Though at the Open, you never know. Meanwhile back on the 1st tee, Rickie Fowler, an absurdly talented eternal bridesmaid, a man we’d all like to see win that elusive major. Hmm, we’ve been here before, haven’t we. New Sergio cracks an iron down the middle of the fairway, and sends his second to five feet. Attaboy, Rickie, to borrow a phrase from Butch Harmon.
Sergio’s coming up 18. After making a double on 16, he’s likely to miss the cut: he’s +4. Ah, he’s certain to miss the cut, because he’s lashed his second out of rough into the Barry Bur… hold on! The ball clanks off the far wall of the burn and somehow balloons back out onto dry land! He’ll still have to hole out from 60 yards if he wants to stick around for the weekend … let’s face it, there’ll be no Carnousite redemption for the man who had a putt here to win in 2007 … but at least he’s left with a Hail Mary. And memories of one of the most outrageous shots you’ll see at this hole for a while!
The defending champion Jordan Spieth is out. And he’s just hoicked a Tiger tribute drive into the deep rough down the right of 1. But he’s got a decent enough lie, and the hot summer’s ensured this rough isn’t quite as thick and lush as it could be. So he sends a wedge over the flag and it lands softly, 15 feet past the pin. After yesterday’s one-over 72, he doesn’t need to rush … but he wouldn’t say no to an early birdie.
And with that, John was gone. He didn’t even say goodbye. They always leave! Sniff. Anyway, news of the US Open champion Brooks Koepka, who sent a gentle fade into 18, his ball screeching to a halt 18 inches from the pin. That’s a birdie to close, and he signs for an excellent 69. At -1, he’s not out of this yet. Especially as Kevin Kisner was unable to get up and down from the sand at 8. It was all he could do to splash 20 feet past the flag; he couldn’t make it coming back. He’s back in a tie with Zach Johnson at -6.
Kisner’s lead may not be too long in lasting. He pings his tee shot on the eighth to go into a bunker that looks deep and soggy. He can only chip it into an none-too promising position on the green. Up ahead on the 17th, Matshuyama goes ahead of Tiger and Knox and shows them where not to go in veering very close to the high rough. Knox’s shot is safe enough, and Tiger, mindful of the Barry Burn hazard, punches one low but not too long.
Oh Tiger! He gave himself too much to do off the tee and from the bunker and couldn’t make par. A shot that falls short and wide leaves him back at par.
Kevin Kisner takes the lead! Sinks a birdie at the seventh to go -7. Elsewhere, Tiger was indeed in the bunker and got himself out of it with an expert piece of sand management that suffered from a lack of belief. He may yet save himself a par on 16th. Matshuyama is on a charge, and takes a birdie. He’s on +1 now.
Gordon Lilley emails in. “With his horrible 70s hairstyle, Fleetwood looked like a wet spaniel being interviewed on Sky. I hope he didn’t smell like one.”
Tiger is wild at off the tee at 16 and wallops the ball into what looks like either deep rough or a bunker to the right of the hole. Up ahead, Padraig Harrington, a previous winner at Carnoustie, will not be adding to his two Opens. He finishes at the 18th on +8. A rueful grin and some handshakes with his playing partners and it’s time to think of the next one.
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