We're bringing you all the latest headline news from day two of The Open
5pm update: Horrific conditions come in, but Richard Bland gains share of lead as Koepka drops back
While Justin Thomas was carding a quadruple-bogey nine on the par-four sixth after taking five shots to get out of the rough, Richard Bland was ignoring the torrential downpours and wind with two birdies in his first four holes.
Bland narrowly missed another chance at the 5th to gain the solo lead over Jordan Spieth, as Brooks Koepka dropped his first shot at the 6th.
Spieth put himself to six-under par with a birdie on the first hole, but a dropped shot followed on the third before an incredible couple of up and downs to save par.
Ian Poulter meanwhile has made it to 25 consecutive holes without a dropped shot - the highest of anyone this week.
And Mark O'Meara signed off his 30th and last Open Championship at the place he won with a wonderful level par 70.
3.30pm update: Spieth gets off to great start, Europeans surge up the leaderboard
Jordan Spieth birdied the first hole to get to the top of the leaderboard at -6 before a brilliant up and down par save on the second despite playing in increasingly tough conditions.
As the rain showers came in Spieth misjudged his long putt to end up with a bogey on the third, resuming a share of the lead with Brooks Koepka.
The best start of the afternoon starters so far have come from Thomas Pieters and Soren Kjeldsen. Pieters has had an astonishing start, birdieing both of his first two holes to get to -3 before a dropped shot on four, while Kjeldsen is two under for the championship due to three birdies through 11 holes.
Elsewhere, Ian Poulter has so far put in a steady performance with a level par-front nine to sit two shots back, and Gary Woodland's eagle on the 5th puts him to a share of 6th at -2.
2.30pm update: Zach Johnson posts phenomenal 66, Kuchar drops out of lead
After a difficult five-over-par round yesterday, the 2015 Open Champion responded with an incredible four-under 66 in tough conditions to get back to one-over and just five shots off leaders Koepka and Spieth.
Matt Kuchar held the solo lead twice during his round, but two bogeys on his final three holes left him with a one-over 71 to drop to four-under.
Elsewhere, Rory McIlroy's surge in momentum has slowed almost to a standstill, and despite a scrambling masterclass early on in the back-nine, dropped shots on 13 and 15 before a birdie on the 17th to get back to a share of 11th at one-under.
Watch out too for Scot Ritchie Ramsay, the links specialist putting himself in contention with a gutsy, hard earned level polar 70 to accompany yesterday’s 68 (-2).
It could have been even better though. “I actually missed quite a few putts - it was pretty hard putting in that breeze.
“Having said that, it’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had on a golf course.”
There should be plenty of drama and plenty of bogeys later this afternoon with birdies likely to be in short supply and like gold dust.
Patience and perseverance will be the key qualities from now on and it’s going to be a case of hanging on to what you’ve got….
Paul Casey signed his 40th birthday off with a seven-over par 77, finishing 11 shots worse than his first round 66 - but he currently still looks likely to make the cut.
The projected cut is +4.
Midday update: Kuchar gains lead as Rory charges up the leaderboard
Matt Kuchar gained the lead for the second time during round two with a birdie on the 15th hole to get to 6-under.
He dropped a shot on the second hole but quickly regrouped to set the early pace during the first four holes thanks to back-to-back birdies on three and four.
Kuchar briefly held a one-shot lead at six-under, but a dropped shot on the eighth has pushed him back to a share of the lead with Spieth and Koepka before aonther gain on 15.
Charl Schwartzel, who started the day at -4, was the only one to challenge the top of the leaderboard of the early starters, but his birdie on the 4th was followed with three dropped shots in two holes, and he has slipped even further back with a bogey on the 10th.
Rory McIlroy maintains the charge of momentum he had yesterday afternoon, making three birdies in his first six holes to get to -2 and just three shots off the lead. It's an incredible comeback for the World No.3, who looked well out of the Open Championship after his poor start to round one.
Cheered on by huge crowds yesterday, the fans’ favourite was riding on the crest of a wave and is now slowly but surely creeping up the leaderboard and poised to put the pressure on Jordan Spieth, Matt Kuchar and Brooks Koepka.
The other good news for Rory is that the overnight leaders will have to deal with even tougher conditions when they tee it up this afternoon.
Double Masters winner Bubba Watson, buoyed by a birdie at 18 last night, was making good progress but it doesn’t like it’s going to be a happy 40th birthday for Paul Casey who dropped 2nd round shots like confetti. He's currently five-over for his round at +1, and it isn't the first time he's played himself in and then out of a contention this year.
The biggest cheer of the day so far greeted Lee Westwood’s sensational eagle two from the semi at the 5th, a stunning shot which put him back to level par. The wind is whipping up and the pressure and it will be interesting to see how Spieth, Koepka and Justin Thomas and co. cope with it later on…
We're bringing you all the latest headline news from day two of The Open
End of day update: Rory McIlroy rallies while Cabrera Bello and Schwartzel charge up the leaderboard
By the end of play on Day One at Royal Birkdale just 35 out of 156 players lie under par for the tournament, and with worse weather to come over the next few days, it really still is completely wide open.
Despite a horror show front nine from Rory McIlroy, he produced a wonderful back nine comeback to finish one-over after Day One of the 146th Open at Royal Birkdale.
McIlroy bogeyed five of the first six holes, but a birdie on the 11th was followed by three more gains in his last four holes to give himself a chance during the weekend.
He said: "I still feel like I'm well in this with the weather we've got tomorrow. If i can go out there tomorrow and keep these good feelings that I have I feel like I'm still right in this golf tournament."
Last week's Aberdeen Assett Management Scottish Open winner Rafa Cabrera Bello reached the turn in two-under before back-to-back birdies on the 15th and 16th to get within one of the lead. Finding a bunker on the 18th would cost him a shot to drop back down to 3-under, but it was still an impressive performance for the Spaniard - who holds a share of 6th with five others such as Ian Poulter, Justin Thomas and Bubba Watson.
Schwartzel was barely mentioned during the majority of the afternoon thanks to a level-par front nine, but he quickly joined Paul Casey at 4-under-par thanks to four birdies on his back-nine, and the
Elsewhere, it was a disappointing day for Masters Champion Sergio Garcia, who despite two birdies on the final two holes still ended up three-over par.
6.30pm update: Americans dominate the leaderboard with Kuchar joining Spieth and Koepka
For a nation supposedly not exactly accustomed to the trials and tribulations of links golf, Uncle Sam doesn’t do too badly thank-you-very-much. The truth of the matter is, America’s top players are so good (especially at Royal Birkdale) that they can play anytime, anywhere and in virtually all playing conditions.
Although Swede Henrik Stenson won last year’s Open at Troon, America has dominated Open proceedings and have provided more than their fair share of Claret Jug winners. And sure enough, they’ve made a solid start here with Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka (both -5) - both already major champions - setting a hot pace with fellow countryman Matt Kuchar, seeking his first title victory, having just joined them.
Charley Hoffman, with an uncanny habit of starting majors with a flourish, was doing it again until back-to-back bogeys on the 16th and 17th holes to drop back to -3. England’s Paul Casey fired an impressive 66 to finish in solo fourth - one shot ahead of a group of players on -3 including England pair Ian Poulter and Richard Bland.
The former’s performance was particularly impressive and achieved in the most difficult and trying conditions this morning. It was proving another tough day at the office for Rory McIlroy who was at +4 but was fighting back hard on the back nine following his first birdie on 11.
3.30pm update: Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka hold early lead after 5-under par rounds of 65 at Royal Birkdale
With the lowest opening rounds at a Royal Birkdale Open since 1998, Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka stormed to the top of the leaderboard of the morning starters.
Ian Poulter, Justin Thomas and Richard Bland finished the day two shots back at 3-under, but Matt Kuchar is currently the one chasing up the leaderboard. With four birdies in his first six holes, Kuchar is just one back of the leaders - and he is only just about to reach the turn.
Spieth's putter was a key point in his blemish-free round included 15 of 18 greens in regulation in what he called a 'nine out of 10' round.
The early leaderboard is world-class and packed with plenty of pedigree spearheaded by American duo Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka, looking to add The Open to the US Open.
There are still plenty of questions to be asked….and answered: Can Sergio Garcia claim his first Open after breaking his majors duck at the Masters? Can Rory McIlroy re-discover his form and scoring touch after missing back-to-back cuts? And how will Phil Mickelson get on without ‘Bones’ on his bag?
All eyes too will be on Matt Kuchar to see whether he can continue his barrage of birdies achieved on a fantastic front nine. And can Lee Westwood finally end his own majors drought?
1pm update: Jordan Spieth holds a share of the lead as Ian Poulter sets the early clubhouse target at 3-under par.
Welcome to the 146th Open! But it wasn’t a very welcome and pleasant one for the early starters at Royal Birkdale this morning.
Up to 20mph winds meant it was a tough, torrid 1st round start for many of the first out - none more so than 1998 Birkdale winner Mark O’Meara who struggled with the opening tee shot of the tournament. After needing to reload with the driver, the former major champion walked off the first green with a disappointing quadruple-bogey eight.
The past Open champion did sign off with one birdie on the 17th but finished with another dropped shot to card an 81, and he wasn’t alone in the struggle to combat the demanding course and tricky elements.
There were many other tales of woe with another former champion, Stewart Cink, firing a triple bogey seven at 16. There was a heck of a lot of blue on the scoreboard with positive red scores few and far between.
However, it's been a bright start for two former Birkdale heroes, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose - who both clearly fancy their chances this week with the former continuing his recent revival by forging -2 midway through a highly promising opening round.
Poulter's first-round 67 put him right at the top of the leaderboard, and the former Ryder Cup hero is looking to to go one better than 2008 when he finished runner-up behind Padraig Harrington.
"Birkdale nine years ago felt pretty good on Sunday, and it felt just as good today. I felt like I played really well, I would have taken that before we started.
"I hit all the shots I wanted to hit, I played careful for obvious reasons. I stayed really committed today on the greens"
"They (the greens) are absolutely perfect, they are running so true if you start them on your line they are going to go in. There's only one or two more putts I'd want back. I played lovely."
While Poults is seeking his first major, Rose is chasing his first Claret Jug after famously finishing fourth as a highly talented and promising teenager in 1998. The 2013 US Open winner swiftly moved -2 but dropped his first shot at no.6 despite hitting an incredible 3-wood from the rough to find the green although he punished himself by briefly carrying his bag before handing it over to his caddie.
12pm update: Stuart Manley races to the top as early starters struggle
There’s always an unexpected 1st round hero though and this time it was Welsh ‘dragon’ Stuart Manley who was certainly putting plenty of fire down onto the Birkdale course.
He finishing in a blaze of glory with an eagle and birdie to top the leaderboard at two-under-par before Poulter finished one better less than an hour later. It was one of those days for Manley who spectacularly holed out from a greenside bunker on 17 before sinking a 25ft putt on the last. The 146th Open is hotting up…
Weirdest moment of the morning
KT Kim suffered a 1-shot penalty on the first hole as his caddie mistakenly picked up his ball thinking it was David Duval's provisional. Whoops!