Friday at The Open: Holmes and Lowry lead, Rory fights back but ends up one short, and Tiger wants to go home


All the major stories from round two at The Open as Lowry and J.B. Holmes lead, Rory's comes up one shot shy despite impressive fightback, Tom Lehman bids farewell and Tiger just wants to 'go home' after missed cut.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were among the big names to miss the cut at Royal Portrush but it was Rory McIlroy who stole the headlines as he came up one shot short despite tying the lowest round of the day. 

Elsewhere, Tom Lehman bid an emotional farewell to his Open career while Shane Lowry and J.B Holmes top a congested leaderboard that have major champions Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth within a couple of shots of the lead. 

Read on below to find out what you missed from a dramatic day in Ireland.

Lowry and Holmes share 36-hole lead

Shane Lowry posted a four-under 67 for the second day in a row to join J.B. Holmes at the top of the Open leaderboard after 36 holes as 11 players sit within three shots.

Lowry was left playing catch-up as Holmes was quick to add to his overnight lead as he took advantage of the favourable morning conditions to post a three-under 68 and set the early clubhouse target of eight-under-par.

"It was a solid day," Holmes said after his round. "It's nice to get two rounds in a row. It shows a little consistency. And two days in a row I've hit the ball really well and putted well."

Holmes fended off early challenges from Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood and he moved to nine-under-par after 13 holes, but he gave that shot back just a hole later to finish one shot clear of Fleetwood in the first wave of Friday's pairings.

That number was quickly met and surpassed by a seemingly unstoppable Shane Lowry in the afternoon as he opened with four birdies in his first five holes before gaining the outright lead with his fifth birdie of the day on the 8th – much to the delight of the crowd.

Lowry extended his lead by two with a further birdie on the 10th that moved him in double-figures for the first time this week, but he dropped his first shot of the day on 14 and failed to get up and down for a par at the last after skirting over the hole with his third.

Despite the disappointing finish, Lowry was nothing but positive about his round, which totalled the lowest 36-hole score of his major career.

"If they had offered it to me at the start of the week I would have taken it. I'm really happy to be where I am. I really, really enjoyed today. There's not too many days like that on the golf course. It's hard to describe."

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Rory ties low round of the day, still misses cut by one 

There was nobody better at Royal Portrush than Rory McIlroy on Friday, but despite putting together the best round of the day the World No.3 is still heading home early after being unable to make up for the first round 79 that left him wanting to punch himself. 

McIlroy made seven birdies and one bogey as he tied the lowest round of the day with a six-under 65, but despite the valiant effort he still finished one shot short of making the cut.  

"Part of me is very disappointed not to be here for the weekend," McIlroy said while fighting back tears following his round. "Part of me disappointed, emotional, but happy with how I played."

"The support I got out there was incredible."

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Tiger, Phil among big names to exit early

It seems almost staggering that in the 82 previous majors that both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have been in the field, there has never been an occasion where both players have missed the cut. That is until the first Open Championship in Ireland since 1951.

The duo were part of a number of big-name stars who made an early exit. They include former major winners Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, Jason Day, Gay Woodland and Irish duo Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington as well as World No.3 Rory McIlroy and World No.6 Bryson DeChambeau.

In total, three of the 15 past champions in the field finished under par after 36 holes (led by Jordan Spieth at -5), while nine missed the cut. David Duval added a second round of 78 to his opening 91 to end up in dead last at 27-over-par, while local man Darren Clarke made a triple bogey at the final hole to finish two shots outside the cutline.

Koepka fires ominous warning to rivals

“I haven't made a putt all week,” Brooks Koepka moaned after firing his second-successive round in the 60s to finish on -5 after two rounds.

"I just need to figure that out. If I can make some putts I could very easily be 10-under, and really maybe more."

More to the point, he hasn't made many mistakes. He's dropped just two shots all week, and goes into the weekend inside the top 20 for the 12th consective time in a major championship. Think that's impressive? He's a combined -35 in majors this season. The next best is DJ on -16.

Tiger Woods: “I just want to go home”

Tiger Woods has confirmed he will skip next week's WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis.

The 15-time champion shot rounds of 77 and 70 to finish on six-over-par at Royal Portrush, and blamed fatigue as he sought to explain his absence from the final WGC event of the PGA Tour season.

“I just want some time off just to get away from it,” said Tiger. “I had a long trip to Thailand and then trying to get ready for this event, to play this event, it's been a lot of travel, a lot of time in the air, a lot of moving around, different hotels and everything. I just want to go home.

“I'm going to take a couple of weeks off and get ready for the playoffs. We've got the playoffs coming up, and anything can happen. Last year I almost stole the whole FedEx Cup at the very end. So, [I'll] get ready for those events and after that then have a break.”

Tiger will next tee it up at the Northern Trust, from August 8-11. He currently sits 23rd in the FedEx Cup standings.

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Tom Lehman's emotional sign off at The Open

The 1996 Open champion fought back the tears on what was likely to be his last appearance in The Open.

Rules dictate that the champion's exemption expires once you turn 61, and since the American turned 60 in March, there was plenty of emotion when he walked up the 18th at Royal Portrush and closed with a five-over 76 after carding a 78 on Thursday.

“You don't really know how you're going to react to the last thing of something,” he said. “And this one was very sweet and joyful. Tears of joy.”

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Amateurs miss out on Silver Medal

For the first time since 2016, there will be no winner of the Silver Medal after James Sugrue, the Amateur champion and home favourite, missed the halfway cut by a single shot at two-over-par alongside Japan’s Takumi Kanaya.

European Amateur champion Matthias Schmid finished three shots further back, while highly-rated American Brandon Wu bowed out on seven-over. There was also disappointment for the English duo of Curtis Knipes and Thomas Thurloway, who exited on nine over and 12 over par respectively.

Finau is looking for the kid who found his golf ball

Tony Finau's second round could have ended in disaster had it not been for a kid that found his golf ball, but the ball-spotter didn't stay around long enough to be rewarded. 

So now, The Open's social media channels are on the search for his mystery helper, and are asking for everyone to retweet their message so they can find him. 

The big question: Can Spieth avoid the weekend blues?

Rounds of 70 and 67 might have put Jordan Spieth right in contention to claim his second Claret Jug, but he'll need to overturn a worrying trend which has plagued his season so far this year.

A look at the PGA Tour stats shows he's tied 166th (of 197 players) in third-round scoring averages, but that's nothing compared to how he's been faring on Sundays. Incredibly, only one player has a worse record in final rounds. 

Shot of the day: Kisner's HUGE eagle putt 

Kevin Kisner holed a huge eagle putt from off the green on the par-five 7th to move from +1 to -1 during the second round of The Open.