For anybody wondering if Rory McIlroy would be able avoid the Friday troubles that have plagued him for much of the 2014 season, your question has been answered. At least through two rounds of the 2014 Open Championship, it’s Rory’s world, and we’re just living in it.
For 36 holes, there hasn’t been a clutch putt that the former world No. 1 has missed, or any mistake he couldn’t recover from. Need an example? Look no further than the par-5 16th on Friday. McIlroy went from bunker to bunker, kept his cool, and still got it up and down for par. McIlroy has made just one bogey through 36 holes, and will carry a dominant four-stroke lead into the weekend.
While the Ulsterman looks nearly invincible right now, he can’t afford to forget about the host of players bunched up behind him. Dustin Johnson, who has been remarkable in 2014, put on a show in the second round, with seven birdies leading to the lowest round of the tournament at 65.
Close behind Johnson is a group that includes 2010 Open winner Louis Oosthuizen, 2011 Masters champ Charl Schwartzel, a resurgent Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia. With weather conditions expected to get notably more difficult through Saturday and Sunday, any number of these players could step up and make McIlroy work for it if he stumbles.
As we head into the championship rounds, so to speak, here’s how things have shaken out.
1. McIlroy; -12
2. Johnson; -8
T3. Francesco Molinari, Ryan Moore, Fowler, Garcia, Schwartzel, Oosthuizen; -6
Several big names are close behind the lead pack, including Jim Furyk in at -5, FedEx Cup leader Jimmy Walker at -4, and current No. 1 in the world Adam Scott at -3. All three of these veterans are still within striking distance, especially if they can get a few breaks.
There are currently 73 players who will play the weekend at Royal Liverpool, but unless and until something gives with McIlroy, the biggest contest Saturday will be seeing who can keep up with him as he hunts for his third major championship.