TROON (Scotland) • Phil Mickelson followed his stunning opening round with a solid 69 in miserable weather conditions at Royal Troon yesterday to lead The Open at 132.
The American had led overnight after equalling the lowest-ever round in a Major golf championship when he shot 63 in glorious conditions on Thursday afternoon.
He was back out early yesterday morning and this time had to deal with the wind and, above all, rain that left the players and the course on Scotland's west coast sodden.
But he still thrived, with three bogeys on the front nine, including at the short eighth, the Postage Stamp, when he almost holed his tee shot.
He also birdied the short 14th, although there was a dropped shot - his first of the week - at the 12th and another bogey at No. 15 that brought him back a little closer to the pack.
"I thought it was a good round to back up the low round yesterday. I made one or two bad swings that led to bogeys but for the most part, I kept the ball in play and played stress-free golf," said the 46-year-old, who won the Open at Muirfield in 2013 and said he enjoyed the unpleasant conditions.
MASTERING THE CONDITIONS
I made one or two bad swings that led to bogeys but for the most part, I kept the ball in play and played stress-free golf.
PHIL MICKELSON, on his second-round 69.
"I was actually more worried about yesterday's round than I was about these coming rounds because I feel very comfortable in the conditions to be able to shoot a number, shoot a good score.
"I was worried about guys going low on the beautiful day and then not keeping pace, so yesterday's round was a big round for me to ultimately set the pace, and not lose too much ground, because I felt like I'd be best prepared for days like today."
Mickelson led in the clubhouse by one shot from Henrik Stenson after the Swede produced a stunning second-round 65.
The effort, which equalled his lowest round at a Major, featured seven birdies and just one bogey and gave him every chance of achieving his ambition of winning a Major this weekend.
2ND RD EARLY SCORES (USA unless stated, par 71)
132 Phil Mickelson 63 69
133 Henrik Stenson (Swe) 68 65
135 Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 67 68, Keegan Bradley 67 68
138 Tony Finau 67 71, Bill Haas 68 70, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 72 66, Andrew Johnston (Gbr) 69 69
1ST RD (SELECTED)
66 Martin Kaymer (Ger), Patrick Reed
67 Kjeldsen, Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson
68 Justin Rose, Shugo Imahira (Jpn), Sergio Garcia (Esp), Yuta Ikeda (Jpn), Lee Soo Min (Kor), Stenson
69 Adam Scott (Aus), Rory McIlroy (Nir)
70 Bubba Watson
71 Jordan Spieth
73 Jason Day (Aus)
Also looking good in the clubhouse was his fellow Scandinavian, Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark, who scored a 68 to move to 135 heading into the weekend.
Reigning champion Zach Johnson is still in the running to become the first player to win the Claret Jug in successive years since Padraig Harrington in 2007 and 2008.
He had a 70 to go to 137, although for the second day running, he bogeyed the last hole, one of four dropped shots in his round.
The favourite coming into the weekend, US Open champion and world No. 2 Dustin Johnson, had an unremarkable opening round of 71 but he produced an eventful 69 yesterday.
The American had six birdies, including three in a row from the 15th hole, but marred his card with double-bogey sixes at the seventh hole and the treacherous 11th hole.
"I felt like I swung it really well all day. Hit a lot of great shots, so I'm looking forward to this weekend," he said.
World No. 4 Rory McIlroy, No. 3 Jordan Spieth and No. 1 Jason Day were among those with afternoon tee times yesterday.
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