SOUTHPORT (England) • Matt Kuchar admitted he could not wait to kick back and relax while watching his rivals in action after battling the conditions at Royal Birkdale yesterday.
The American golfer, joint overnight leader alongside compatriots Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka on five under par, went round in 71 to drop back to four under for the Open championship.
His round featured three birdies but there were four bogeys, including two in a frustrating final three holes. Nevertheless, that has given him something to build on going into the weekend as he seeks a first Major title, while Spieth, Koepka and others face up to potentially much worse conditions in the afternoon over the Southport links.
"I think that's one of the cool things over here, whether it's Thursday or Friday, whatever your morning round is, getting to go back to the room, put on the TV and watch the guys play in the afternoon, and particularly in tough conditions," said Kuchar, his cheeks reddened after being lashed by the wind all morning.
"I think that's what people enjoy about the British Open is watching the hard wind, the rain, the guys just trying to survive out there. "
Kuchar, who had shot a flawless opening round of 65, will feel he benefited from a favourable early tee time at 8.36am (3.36pm Singapore time) with the weather expected to deteriorate later.
Rory McIlroy shot a two-under 68 to trail clubhouse leader Kuchar by three shots after his second round. The Northern Irishman moved to 139 overall with four birdies and two bogeys.
2ND ROUND (selected early scores, USA unless stated)
136 Matt Kuchar 65 71
138 Richie Ramsay (Sco) 68 70
139 Austin Connelly (Can) 67 72, Rory McIlroy (Nir) 71 68
140 Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 67 73, Bubba Watson 68 72
141 Ernie Els (Rsa) 68 73, Zach Johnson 75 66
142 Sergio Garcia (Esp) 73 69, Ross Fisher (Eng) 70 72, Rickie Fowler 71 71 143 Adam Scott (Aus) 69 74, Paul Casey (Eng), Dustin Johnson 71 72
143 Adam Scott (Aus) 69 74, Paul Casey (Eng), Dustin Johnson 71 72
144 Martin Kaymer (Ger) 72 72, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 66 78
The four-time Major winner had been five over after six holes in his first round, but he did not record another bogey until the 13th hole of his second round.
Three birdies in his first six holes yesterday pushed him up the leaderboard, but the 2014 champion was pegged back with bogeys on the 13th and 15th holes, before a birdie on the 17th hole put him into the red.
"I am ecstatic," the 28-year-old told BBC Radio 5 live.
"I couldn't ask to be in a better position, having been five over through six holes yesterday and now be in the clubhouse after two rounds under par. I can't wait to rest this afternoon and see how the guys handle it out there."
Sergio García feared he had blown his chances of winning the Open with a self-inflicted shoulder injury after he lashed out at a gorse bush.
The Spaniard's 69 was one of the best scores of a windswept second day, but the Masters champion thought he might not be able to complete the round following an incident on the fourth hole.
After hitting an errant tee shot on the 199-yard par three, his backswing on his second shot was restricted by a gorse bush and contributed to a poor chip which came up short of the green.
He then took out his frustrations on the gorse, angrily hitting it with his club and immediately grabbing his right shoulder in pain.
Garcia went on to bogey the hole and although he drove the green on the fifth to set up an eagle, he received treatment on the course and planned to undergo more later.
"It didn't feel good," the 37-year-old said after posting a halfway 142 total.
"I hit it backwards, it was a very weak position, and it felt like the muscles went on top of each other. Obviously I'm not happy about it ."
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is on 143 after a 72, while former world No. 1 Jason Day shot 76 to sit perilously at 145. Last year's runner-up Phil Mickelson is heading home - he had a disastrous 77 in the second round for a 150 total.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN
THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP
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