Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner top a packed leaderboard as they share the 36-hole lead at the 147th Open.
Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner are already sharing a house this week with a host of other American players. And now, they also hold a share of the lead after 36 holes of the 147th Open Championship.
It was Johnson who set the pace early on Friday in the worst of the day's conditions, posting the clubhouse target of six-under-par thanks to a lengthy birdie putt on his final hole of the second round.
The 2015 Open Champion began the day with a dropped shot but quickly responded with three birdies in his next five holes, moving to four-under par and one shot behind overnight leader Kevin Kisner - who was at that point yet to tee off.
Johnson ended a run of seven pars with a birdie at the par-five 14th Spectacles hole before a final gain at the 18th moved him in to the lead, although Kisner was quick to get in front after getting his second round underway.
A two-under front-nine gave Kisner a one shot advantage at the turn, before dropping back in to a share of the lead at the 10th. It was from there he pushed ahead, carding back-to-back gains from the 13th to move two shots clear, holding that position until a costly second shot on the 18th hole left him in the Barry Burn.
He ended with a final-hole double bogey, but still with a share of the lead Kisner was in positive spirits following his round, giving credit to his putter for the second day in a row as he remarked that his game is in a good shape heading in to the weekend.
"I got off to the start I wanted to, a couple under through seven," Kisner commented of his round. "Got a little greedy on the eighth, made bogey. Got it to where I wanted to be and obviously made double on the last hole. Didn't think I would hit that in the burn with an eight iron but just didn't come out the way I saw it.
"Hit a lot of great putts coming down the stretch. Probably could have made two or three more, but they all lipped out. I love where my putter is and love my position going into the weekend."
Pat Perez, Erik van Rooyen, Zander Lombard and Tony Finau all moved in to a share of the lead with Kisner and Johnson on six-under at various points of the afternoon rounds, though each slipped back over the closing holes.
Tommy Fleetwood carded the round of the day, a six-under 65, and currently sits just one shot behind the leaders with Perez and Xander Schauffele, who had two birdies and an eagle over his final eight holes.
“Today's been a round where I've put myself back in the tournament, and I've just got to move on from there really," Fleetwood said. "But just try and keep doing the same things. If I can hit it like I did today, then, obviously, I'm going to have a lot of chances coming in over the weekend, and we'll see where that takes me.”
Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy adopted a less agressive strategy to finish a further shot back on four-under with 2017 Open runner up Matt Kuchar, Tony Finau, Erik van Rooyen and Zander Lombard, and seemed confident about his chances and game.
“I feel good. I hit the ball better," McIlroy said. "I hit a lot of really good iron shots today, especially short and mid-irons, and I putted well. So that combination is hopefully going to do well over the weekend.
“I feel like there is low rounds in me. I felt very comfortable out there. I played within myself. I haven't taken on too much. It has felt -- I don't want to say easy, but it's felt comfortable. So if I can get on a run or get off to a fast start in the next couple of days, I don't see a ridiculously low score out there, but I definitely see something like what Tommy shot today, a 66 or a 65. I think that would be -- I think I'm capable of that, yeah.”
Jordan Spieth made a big move up the leaderboard on Friday, posting a four-under 67 to get within three shots of the lead with five birdies and a solitary bogey late on in his round. And the defending champion said he feels his game is getting close.
"I made one bad decision today, and it cost me," Spieth said. "But it's getting close - I know that my swing's not exactly where I want it to be. It's nowhere near where it was at Birkdale, but the short game's on point, and the swing's working in the right direction to get that confidence back."
Spieth sits alongisde fellow American's Rickie Fowler and Kevin Chappell in 11th place, who shot a pair of two-under 69s.
Three of the World’s top 5 bow out of The Open early
It looked like he was set to miss out, but Justin Rose holed a much-needed birdie-putt on his final hole of the day to guarantee his finish inside the cut-line and a spot in the field at the weekend.
World No.1 and 2 Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas won’t be joining him though, having struggled to tame Carnoustie in the worst of Friday’s weather, with Thomas missing out by one shot at +4 and DJ a further two shots back thanks to a bogey, double-bogey finish.
Justin Thomas had found himself in contention following a two-under opening round, but slipped back with three double-bogeys in a row during the front nine on day two, adding two more birdies and two bogeys to sign for a six-over 77.
Dustin Johnson had similar frustrations, getting himself back inside the cut-line with three birdies in four holes from the 13th, only to drop three shots in his final two holes – playing the par-four 18th in five-over par for the first two days.
World No.5 Jon Rahm had a similar day to Justin Thomas, starting at two-under but ending up outside of the cut-line thanks to a mixture of three birdies, three bogeys, two double-bogeys and a triple-bogey on the 7th after he knocked his drive out of bounds.
Other notable players to miss the cut include major champions Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel, Padraig Harrington and Jimmy Walker.