For the second straight day, the first players out on the course are getting the best of the scoring conditions at the British Open. Danny Willett is the big mover, rocketing past first-round leader Dustin Johnson (7-under) with four birdies in his first 10 holes. He's now 10-under for the championship and three shots clear of DJ, who still has a few more hours of sitting around before he gets his crack at what could be a much tougher golf course.
The rain came harder and heavier than anticipated Friday morning, pushing the entire round back three hours and 14 minutes and also drenching an already soft golf course. When the rain finally dissipated a bit, and most of the standing water was moved, the course became quite playable and defenseless. Those first several groups out after the resumption of play, at 10 a.m. local, encountered little-to-no wind. Willett stuck it close and went out on the links in 3-under 33.
Willett has been one of the top English prospects for several years now. He played alongside Rory McIlroy in that legendary 2007 Walker Cup but now at 27 years old, he's got just two Euro Tour wins and no real track record at the majors. A T15 at The Open two years ago is his best result. He entered the week at 39th in the world and his third place finish at the loaded WGC Match Play event was a statement performance on American soil. But he's missed three of five cuts, including the U.S. Open and Players, coming into the Open. The talent is there but the form wasn't screaming for this kind of run. He's taking advantage of his spot on the tee sheet.
Zach Johnson was the primary challenger to Willett's spot atop the leaderboard early on, pouring in back-to-back birdies during those friendlier conditions. That pushed him to 8-under and the lead for the moment, but then Willett increased the pace and Johnson gave both shots back as the wind picked up and he hit the loop, the hardest stretch of the course following No. 9.
Phil MIckelson is the biggest name out on the course during this morning wave and he's making the right move as well. Even though he was six shots off the lead, Mickelson was ecstatic with his 2-under round on Thursday. He caught the tougher conditions and played great golf just to get to that 2-under point. He's added two more red numbers in his first five holes and is at 4-under, just outside the top 10. It's about to get tougher for Phil but he seems to have his better game working this week.
Here's an early snapshot of the leaderboard as this morning wave makes their moves:
|2||Dustin Johnson||-7||12:48 PM|
|T3||Robert Streb||-6||10:31 AM|
|T3||Retief Goosen||-6||11:04 AM|
|T3||Paul Lawrie||-6||12:59 PM|
|T3||Jason Day||-6||1:10 PM|
|T9||Jordan Niebrugge||-5||10:42 AM|
|T9||Kevin Na||-5||10:53 AM|
|T9||Charl Schwartzel||-5||12:15 PM|
|T9||Jordan Spieth||-5||12:48 PM|
|T9||Louis Oosthuizen||-5||1:10 PM|
|T16||Greg Owen||-4||9:47 AM|
|T16||Matt Jones||-4||10:31 AM|
|T16||Luke Donald||-4||11:15 AM|
|T16||David Howell||-4||1:43 PM|
|T23||Paul Dunne||-3||9:58 AM|
|T23||David Lingmerth||-3||10:20 AM|
|T23||Romain Langasque||-3||12:37 PM|
|T29||Thomas Bjorn||-2||9:47 AM|
|T29||Alexander Levy||-2||10:20 AM|
|T29||Anthony Wall||-2||10:42 AM|
|T29||Webb Simpson||-2||11:37 AM|
|T29||Ollie Schniederjans||-2||11:37 AM|
|T29||Sergio Garcia||-2||12:26 PM|
|T29||Stewart Cink||-2||1:32 PM|
|T29||Greg Chalmers||-2||1:43 PM|
|T29||Tyrrell Hatton||-2||2:05 PM|
|T29||Paul Kinnear||-2||2:05 PM|
|T29||Rikard Karlberg||-2||9:26 AM|