ST ANDREWS (Scotland) • Jordan Spieth got his Open campaign off to a strong start at St Andrews yesterday but, in the end, he had to bow to playing partner, fellow American Dustin Johnson.
Tiger Woods had another round of Major misery and already is facing a battle to avoid a third missed cut in the last four Majors.
Spieth got the better of Johnson on the 18th hole last month when he added the US Open to his win in April at the Masters.
But no hard feelings were evident between the pair as they happily bantered away together and bagged birdies on a morning highlighted by low scoring.
Both reached the turn at five-under 31 after which it was Johnson who excelled down the more difficult back nine. He moved out to seven-under 65 while Spieth's normally reliable putter suddenly sputtered, coughing up bogeys at 13 and 17, the notorious Road Hole.
2nd round (selected, Singapore time)
4.11pm Adam Scott (Aus), Martin Kaymer (Ger)
4.33pm Phil Mickelson (USA), Henrik Stenson (Swe), Matt Kuchar (USA)
4.44pm Justin Rose (Eng), Nick Faldo (Eng), Rickie Fowler (USA)
4.55pm Jim Furyk (USA)
9.12pm Lee Westwood (Eng), Sergio Garcia (Esp), Patrick Reed (USA)
9.34pm Jordan Spieth (USA), Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), Dustin Johnson (USA)
10.07pm Jason Day (Aus), Tiger Woods (USA), Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa)
The 21-year-old Texan, however, sunk a snaking 20-footer for birdie at the last and a round of 67.
Both American golfers clearly stated their case that they are the men to beat at the fabled Old Course this week.
In the absence of the injured Rory McIlroy, Spieth is the focal point as he can add the British Open crown to the Masters and US Open titles he already owns, thus becoming just the second player, after Ben Hogan in 1953, to do so.
Johnson just wants to win a Major after near misses in all four Grand Slam tournaments in recent years. His lead in the clubhouse was matched out on the course with two holes to play by Scotland's 1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie.
The Carnoustie champion moved into contention late in his round to warm the hearts of the home fans, most of whom were well wrapped up to counter the elements.
A shot further back in the clubhouse came little-known American Robert Streb, who admitted he was trying out links golf for the first time and had harboured few expectations for the week, and South Africa's two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen, who had needed to qualify for the tournament.
Woods easily bettered Spieth and Johnson in the gallery stakes, but his play, sadly for him, was far from being up to scratch.
The former world No. 1, who is mired in the worst slump of his career, limped out in four-over 40 at which point he was next to last in the standings.
He finally bagged a birdie at the 14 to give himself some hope at four-under with two holes to play.
There was heartache too for Tom Watson, the 65-year-old, five-time former champion playing in the Open for the 38th and final time.
He went out in a handsome 35, but three double bogeys down the back nine saw him resigned to a four-over 76 that makes his goal of making the cut all but impossible.
"I'm going to have to play an extraordinary round tomorrow probably to make the cut. That's the way I look at it," he said.
Day 2, sessions 1 & 2: Singtel TV Ch114 & StarHub Ch208, 4pm & 8.30pm