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Former Champion Leads the Way at Carnoustie

By: | Sat 21 Jul 2018

KEVIN KISNER threw away a golden chance of finishing the second round leading the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie all on his own when his approach shot at the 18th found the Barry Burn and cost him a double-bogey six. It was reminder of just how difficult a hole it can be. Kisner began the day on five under par and had progressed to eight under after 35 holes before undoing much of his good work.

He was still able to sign for a round of 70, which put him level with 2015 champion Zach Johnson. 

And Johnson is confident his game can hold up to the challenge of another Open bid even if no-one seemed to give him a chance going into Carnoustie.

The 42-year-old has never led a major after 36 holes despite winning the 2007 Masters and the Claret Jug at St Andrews in 2015.

Asked whether he was coming in under the radar the American said: “I don’t know who is managing the radar. It is irrelevant to me. If you are going to base it on world ranking sure, that’s fine but I’ve seen the trajectory of my game: I trust my driver, I trust my irons, I trust my putter.”

Johnson started the day two under and dropped a shot at the first but then remained bogey-free with his fifth birdie of the day coming courtesy of a 25-foot putt at the last.

That took him into the outright lead ahead of Tommy Fleetwood, who shot a best-of-the-week 65 with six birdies and 12 pars to move to five under.

Fleetwood holds the course record at Carnoustie - 63 - and after a runner-up finish at last month’s US Open leapt into contention on the second day.

“It’s no course record, but it will do for today. It was a spirited effort today,” said the Southport golfer. It was a very strong round of golf, and I hit a lot of good golf shots. If I could pick one tournament in my life to win, it would be The Open. I’ve never been anywhere near before. So far for two rounds, I’m up there on the leaderboard.” Fleetwood shares third place with Pat Perez and Xander Schauffele.

Three-time major winner Rory McIlroy is a shot further back after a second successive round of 69 but it was a score that was compiled in a very different manner. On a sunny Thursday the 2014 Open champion attacked the course with driver on almost every hole possible. When he arrived for the second round to be greeted by constant rain he changed that philosophy.

“Jeez, under those conditions, I would have taken that score today going out,” said the Northern Irishman. "It wasn’t that bad, but it was just damp enough and cold enough that the game plan that I was trying to adapt to be aggressive and hit driver a lot, I just couldn’t do it.

“We had to tough it out a little bit. It was a little more difficult, so I’m happy to be in with a shot.

“This week, one of my main thoughts is just to let it go. Just go out there and give it your all, try 100% rather than hold back and maybe not give myself the opportunity to do well.

“But it was definitely a day of, ‘don’t shoot yourself out of the tournament’ instead of trying to press on and build a lead or get an advantage. I played within myself.”

McIlroy also feels there is also room for improvement in terms of the quality of his play.

The 29-year-old said: “I didn’t hit driver as much today, so I didn’t have as much of a chance to hit it offline, but there were still a couple of shots out there that weren’t great.

“I feel like there are low rounds in me. If I can get on a run or get off to a fast start in the next couple of days, I definitely see something like a 66 or a 65. I think I’m capable of that.”

Defending champion Jordan Spieth is lurking at three under after a splendid round of 67.

Tiger Woods had a mixed day as, having not carded a bogey until the 10th hole on Thursday, made two in his first three holes.

His decision to use his driver - which he used just once on the par-five sixth yesterday - at the second proved to be the wrong one but it was almost more costly for spectators.

Having carved a shot into a bank of rough he attempted a raking hook with the ball above his feet at almost waist height but it came out low and hard and skirted inches away from the packed gallery he had only just asked to move back a couple of yards.

A bogey was followed by a second at the next when he raced his 25-foot birdie attempt past the hole and could not convert the return.

However, the 14-time major winner immediately posted back-to-back birdies to return to level par where, after going bogey-birdie immediately after the turn, he remained through 12 holes. He got it to one under par with a birdie at the 14th but another shot went at the 16th and he had to settle for a second round of 71

US Open champion Brooks Koepka, who was five over par after nine holes, completed 36 holes in one under par thanks to a 69 that featured four birdies and two bogeys. And there was a welcome return to form for Australia's Adam Scott, who is level with Kopeka after second round of 70. Scott has Fanny Sunesson on his bag after persuading the Swede to come out of retirement. She worked for Nick Faldo during several of his six major victories.

Jon Rahm got himself to three under par early in his second round but then endured a horrific run that included dropping five shots in three holes from the seventh to the ninth holes. He turned in 41 and eventually stumbled to a 78 and missed the cut, which fell at four over. Others who won't be around for the weekend include Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

Justin Rose, fancied by many when the week began, holed a putt at the 18th to make it to the weekend right on the mark and has a massive amount of work to do to get himself into the mix this weekend.

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