It took two full days and 14 hours worth of rain and wind delays, but after 36 holes, the British Open has the same leader as it did after the first round. Dustin Johnson woke up before 5 a.m. local in St. Andrews on Saturday, hoping to finish up his last five holes of the second round and play another 18 late in the day. He did not finish those five holes until right around 7:30 p.m. local but after the nightmare day, he sat one shot clear of the field at 10-under.
Johnson is the most talented player in the 2015 Open field. He has more natural ability than anyone on the planet aside from Rory McIlroy, and even then he might be in a dead heat with the world No. 1. It's not especially surprising to see him back on top of a major championship leaderboard at the midpoint. He hits it farther and straighter than anyone -- ESPN analysts agreed Thursday that he was the best driver of this generation. Much like at Chambers Bay last month, St. Andrews is a course that rewards distance off the tee. And even through the wind, DJ has ripped it off the tee and avoided the trouble around the Old Course.
We often highlight hole trackers and landing zones that show just how far DJ hits it past the rest of the field, but Saturday's late conclusion featured one of the more astonishing graphics that emphasized just what a different game he's playing. His ProTracer arc at the famous Road Hole, the 17th, looked illegal (via Kyle Porter).
Lol. pic.twitter.com/DWwlxuXyKs— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) July 18, 2015
The outliers on those collages are usual some shank or hook to the right or left, not THAT.
Johnson sits on the lead despite playing through some of the worst conditions and definitely catching an unfair break Saturday morning. He has just two bogeys through 36 holes, and the second came right out of gate Saturday at 7 a.m. DJ started with his ball just off the 14th green, an easier par-5 he left in total darkness on Friday night. An up-and-down from just off the green would push him two clear of the lead. Instead, he was playing in conditions that, after full review, no one should have been on the course for. DJ hit a poor chip and failed to mark his ball in time but still had two putts for par. Instead, he watched the ball get blown off the green and down a hill. He'd make a bogey on the hole, which is extra-damaging on a par-5 for a long- hitter of DJ's stature.
Those eight shots during that 30 minutes of a disaster of a restart could have shook him. Johnson, however, limited the damage following that bogey at the 14th and closed with a birdie on the 18th to get back to 10-under. He will be hard to beat driving the ball the way he is right now.
Playing with Johnson during this marathon round was Jordan Spieth, the Grand Slam hopeful. Spieth is five shots back off the pace of his playing partner following one of the poorer putting rounds he'll ever have. He had five three-putts in these 18 holes over two days and 37 putts total, the most of any round in his pro career. He's still in contention and tied for 14th, but he'll need to put a charge together early on Sunday and try to unnerve the group ahead of him, notably DJ. That's what he did last week. The Gland Slam is slipping away but he's certainly not played himself out of it.
Johnson's one-shot lead over Danny Willett means that after all 10 rounds of major championship golf, either DJ or Spieth have held the lead. There was some symmetry to that stat being thrown around as Tiger Woods exited the stage early for his second straight major. Woods has never missed two consecutive cuts at the majors, but his week was gone from his very first nine holes -- and maybe the very first fairway, where he dumped one into the water early Thursday morning. Tiger finished 7-over, better than only a handful of the aged past champions and a couple other stragglers. As much fun as it is watching Johnson and Spieth light up these majors, it's almost as sad to see Tiger so uncompetitive.
We're a day behind but the weather is supposed to be amenable to play on Sunday. There will not be any attempt to squeeze in 36 holes or even more than the third round 18, setting up a full round on Monday at the Old Course. It took almost 38 hours, but here's where things stand after the second round:
|Place||Player||Score||1st Round||2nd Round|
|T61||Rafael Cabrera Bello||E||71||73|
|T118||Jaco Van Zyl||4||79||69|
SB Nation video archives: Urban golfing with a U.S. Open champ (2012)