Spieth holds two-shot lead at The Open

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Jordan Spieth followed his first round 65 with a 69 to tie the lowest ever 36-hole score in an Open at Royal Birkdale

The majority of the field struggled in Friday’s tough conditions, but Jordan Spieth prevailed in the wind and rain to gain a two-shot advantage over the rest of The Open field at the midway stage.

Just nine players remain under par in the 146th edition of The Open as the weather deteriorated and the cut-line moved to +5.

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Spieth opened up his second-round account with a birdie on the first to command the early lead at six-under, and despite the heavy rain and a mixture of bogeys and birdies on his card, he was still just one of eight players out of 156 to shoot under-par.

Two bogeys on the front nine meant Spieth reached the turn in 35 and shared a five-way tie for the lead with Kuchar, Koepka, Ian Poulter and Richard Bland, but it would not stay that way for long.  

As all but Kuchar (who was safe and dry in the clubhouse) dropped shots, Spieth birdied both the 11th and 12th holes to gain a two-shot lead.

He answered a further dropped shot on the 14th with an eagle on the 15, but another bogey on 16 book-ended his short but memorable ascent to a three-shot lead and instead got him back to one-under for his round and two shots clear.

The 23-year-old parred his final two holes to seal his 12th major round in the lead since the beginning of 2015.

"It was a very solid round. It's very satisfying. Not on the good end of the draw but we seem to have grinded it out but I felt like we were toughend a bit today. My patience today wore a little thin and then that chip in (on 10) was massive."

"When I look back at the day overall it (the weather) wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be," Spieth said after his round.

"We got some favourable conditions at an hour at a time over there, and in those favourable conditions we were able to capatilise which was very important today. And then I got up and down when necessary when conditions were tough"

"One under was a tremendous score today and I was really pleased with it. Yesterday I felt like I played better than five-under and today I didn't play as well as one-under but got a couple of breaks"

Fellow first-round leader Matt Kuchar will join Spieth in the final group on Saturday thanks to a one-over 71 that puts him in solo second at four-under-par.

Kuchar managed to get to six-under during part of his round but after a couple of bogeys he was pleased to get in the clubhouse having had the calmer conditions.

Matt Kuchar

After the commencement of his round he said he was happy that he gets “to kick back in the afternoon and watch the guys just try to survive”

Brooks Koepka played in the same half of the draw as Spieth but didn’t have quite as fortuitous a round, failing to card a single birdie during his two-over 72 and finishing the day in a tie for third with Ian Poulter.

Richie Ramsay holds solo 5th position thanks to a level par 70, while four players (including Rory McIlroy) making up the rest of the top 11 at one-under par.

McIlroy takes advantage of the early conditions to get in to contention

The morning starters at Royal Birkdale definitely got the best of the weather, but the wind was still blowing fiercely as Rory McIlroy surged up the leaderboard to place himself firmly in to contention heading in to the weekend 

Forgetting the horror front-nine of yesterday, McIlroy birdied three of his first six holes to get to -2 and in the red numbers, before putting on a scrambling masterclass that saw him save three pars in a row.

Rory McIlroy

Two bogeys on the 13th and 15th holes dropped him back to level par, but a final birdie on the 17th left him three shots back at 3-under-par.

“I got off to a good start, which I think is important today,” Rory said. “The back nine is playing really, really difficult. So to birdie three of the first six and give myself that little bit of a cushion to play with was nice.

“I made some key up and-downs on the start of the back nine. To be in after two days and be under-par for this championship after the way I started, I'm ecstatic with that”

Zach Johnson had the best round of the day with a four-under 66 to get back to +1 for the tournament – although he didn’t suffer through the heavy rain.

Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia all sit at two-over-par, while Jason Day, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood were among the big names to scrape through the cut at five-over. 

Alfie Plant is the only amateur to make the cut at four-over-par, securing the silver medal as leading amateur in The Open, despite still having two days to go until the end of the tournament. 

Weirdest story of the day 

Sergio Garcia already had a sore finger thanks to a papercut on his index finger, and yet he still decided to pick a fight with a bush on the fourth hole.

He managed to pick up an injury to his shoulder and was forced to call out the doctor to be assessed, admitting there was a point he thought he wouldn’t be able to continue.

Sergio Garcia hurts his shoulder

Despite that, Garcia still managed a one-under-par round of 69 to end the day at +2 overall and said after his round that having taken ibu profen he felt better.

“I mean obviously I am not happy about it because I almost screwed up my British Open. Fortunately for me I didn't. But obviously it's not what you want to do. But sometimes you're out there and you're trying your hardest, and when you can't do it, it gets a little frustrating. We've all had those moments.”

“It feels better than it felt when I did it. Obviously it took a good amount of pills to make it feel better and a little bit of treatment. And it's warm at the moment. So I want to see how it feels tonight.” 

“But I'm going to go to the physio track and make sure I get some work on it because it still feels a little bit sore around it. So we'll see. Hopefully it will be fine.

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