SAINT ANDREWS, United Kingdom: Dustin Johnson was in the driving seat in the British Open on Friday (Saturday in Manila) on a day when wild weather caused havoc with the schedule and Tom Watson and Nick Faldo said their goodbyes.
Tiger Woods also looked set to say his goodbye — at least for this year—as the former world No.1 once again struggled against his own personal dimming of the light.
Johnson, the big-hitting American, who has come close to winning all four majors, but come up short each time, stood at 10-under for the tournament when nightfall ended his second round as he and playing partner Jordan Spieth were on the 14th green.
Spieth, the focal point of the tournament as he is going for a third major tournament win in a row, was on five-under and losing ground on his fellow American.
They will both come back at 7:00 a.m. (0600GMT) Saturday, along with 40 other players, to complete their rounds after which the third round will be played in three-balls in a bid to get the tournament back on schedule.
The clubhouse leader was England’s former world amateur number one Danny Willett who fired a 69 earlier in the day to stand at nine under 135.
Two strokes further back were a quartet consisting of former world number one Adam Scott (67), fellow Australian Robert Streb (71), 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson (71) and top Scot Marc Warren (69).
Out on the course Paul Lawrie and Jason Day were at eight under, the Scot after 12 holes and the Australian after 11.
Willett, a 27-year-old from Sheffield who is aiming to become England’s first Open champion in 23 years, has steadily risen to 39th in the world this year.
The last English winner of the Open was Nick Faldo in 1992 at Muirfield.
“I think it’s a childhood dream and looking up there it’s still a little bit surreal but something I’m going to have to get used to, otherwise no point in being up there,” he said.
“We’re going to try and rest up and then try and go out for another good weekend and hopefully we can be up there in two days’ time.”
Willett’s charge came after an early morning storm caused a 3 hours 14 minutes delay, spilling over the second round into Saturday morning.
The storm that had been forecast to sweep in from the North Sea arrived on time just as the first group of players reached the first green and they rushed for cover.
Groundsmen worked feverishly to soak up the many puddles of standing water that made it look, at one stage, like play could even be abandoned for the day.
“It was like D-day,” said South African Thomas Aiken, one of the first players to go out before the suspension.
“When we got out on the range, it was like, are you serious? Are we really going out in this?
“The putting green was flooded by the time we got to the first tee.”
But the Old Course with its sandy, links base remarkably quickly drunk up the deluge and play somehow got back underway in mid morning.
Darkness for Watson
The delay meant that 65-year-old, five-time former champion Tom Watson’s farewell to the tournament that came to define his career, was consigned to near darkness at the end of the day.
As many have done before him Watson stopped for a final photo opportunity on the 18th hole’s famous Swilcan Bridge and then trudged up to final green for a closing bogey, a round of 80 and a warm round of applause from the remnants of the day’s spectators.
Earlier in day, three-time open champion Faldo had walked the same walk as he missed his final cut with a fine 71.
Woods, also a three-time winner of the Open, was five over after 11 holes and with the cut projected to fall at even, his chances of playing the last 36 holes were slim to say the least.
Should he fail to do so it would be the first time in his career that he had missed back-to-back cuts in the majors having gone home early at the US Open last month.