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The Open 2016 - Round 2 Reports - Scores

Phil Mickelson holds on to slim lead

On a rainy day at Royal Troon, Phil Mickelson finally ran into a bit of trouble.

He still managed to stay out front in the British Open.

After coming within a lipped-out putt of a major championship scoring record in the opening round, Mickelson had to scramble a bit to escape with a 2-under 69 on Friday.

He was at 10-under 132 midway through the tournament, heading to the weekend with a shot at becoming the oldest Open champion since Old Tom Morris in 1867.

Mickelson turned 46 last month. Morris was 46 years and 102 days old when he triumphed at nearby Prestwick 149 years ago.

Making the turn at the far end of the course, Mickelson was 3 under for the round, five shots clear of the field and looked on the verge of blowing it open. He nearly made a hole-in-one at No. 8 - the famed ''Postage Stamp'' hole - his ball rolling right up to the edge of the cup for a tap-in birdie, roughly the length of a postage stamp.

But, with the rain coming down harder, the inward nine was tougher on Mickelson. He narrowly missed a gorse bush at No. 12 and took his first bogey of the tournament. He made another at the 15th after driving into the rough and coming up 40 yards short of the green with his approach. He could've had a third bogey at the par-3 17th after dumping his tee shot into a deep bunker, but a brilliant sand wedge to 2 feet allowed him to save par.

It was a far cry from Thursday, when Mickelson didn't come close to making bogey on his way to a record-tying 63. He could've been the first player to shoot 62 in a major championship, but a 16-foot birdie putt at the final hole lipped out, sending Mickelson's caddie tumbling to the ground and Lefty grabbing his head in disbelief.

As Mickelson headed to the clubhouse to dry off, Henrik Stenson was his closest challenger. The Swede, looking to give his country its first major championship by a male golfer, turned in the best round of the morning starters with a 65 to close within one shot of the lead.

It was Stenson's best round ever at the Open in his 12th appearance.

Mickelson already has five major titles, the most recent coming at the 2013 British Open.

Having already won the claret jug, he is more relaxed going into the weekend.

''It's a lot easier having already held it,'' Mickelson said. ''Winning the Open was the greatest challenge of my career, and I've already done it. I would love nothing more than to add another one. But knowing I've already done it takes the pressure off.''

Mickelson was the eighth player to open a major with a 63. He became only the third to break par in the next round.

Among the other early finishers, Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark was three shots off the lead after a 68, while defending Open champion Zach Johnson was in the mix again with a 70 that left him five shots behind.

Keegan Bradley back on a leaderboard

Keegan Bradley finished a practice round at Royal Troon on Monday when he decided to play a prank. He climbed inside the massive leaderboard next to the 18th green, found the right letters and put his name on it.

Coming into the British Open, that might have been the only way to see it.

This is the last of his five-year exemption based on his PGA Championship victory in 2011. He hasn't won any tournament in four years. He is No. 120 in the world.

The best news Friday: His name was on the leaderboard, this time for real.

Bradley recovered from a rough stretch to start the back nine and posted a 3-under 68, leaving him in a tie for third and only three shots behind Phil Mickelson going into the weekend at Royal Troon.

''It's just more fun to play well,'' Bradley said. ''It's extra hard to play well and not see the scores, and that's kind of what's been happening to me over the last couple of months. That's actually harder than playing. ... Everybody comes up to me and says, 'What's wrong with you?' And that's the toughest. Because I tell them, 'I'm fine.' I'm enjoying the challenge of getting better.''

And it has been a challenge.

Bradley won a World Golf Championship at Firestone in 2012 for his third victory in his first 50 starts as a PGA Tour member. This is his 100th tournament worldwide since then without a victory, and with only a couple of serious chances.

It's more than just the ban on the anchored putting stroke for Bradley, who was the first major champion to use a longer putter that he stuck to his stomach. Bradley wasn't getting results. He wasn't getting picked for U.S. teams. The confidence was slipping.

He started working with a new coach at the Bear's Club in south Florida. He replaced the only caddie he ever had on the PGA Tour.

''It takes time,'' Bradley said. ''I've actually been playing pretty well for a couple of months; didn't have much to show for it. It's coming. I can feel it coming. Whether it happens this week, it's coming back, which is good.''

Bradley said he knows this because he feels uncomfortable over certain shots, to the point of being nervous, and that used to be when he was at his best. On those occasions at Troon, he said he has delivered quality shots. And that's what he has been missing.

''Today I was really nervous on that 10th tee shot, and I probably hit the best shot of the day there,'' he said. ''So to me, that's a good sign.''

Bradley had plenty of help along the way. Mickelson took him under his wing when he was a rookie in 2011, inviting him to some of his money games during practice rounds at big events. Mickelson, Ernie Els and Fred Couples were among those who told him they had all been in slumps during their careers.

''They all said, 'We went through this at some point. It was just a little dip and people freak out. It's your job to enjoy the challenge of coming back,''' he said.

Is he coming back?

Two good rounds, even at a major, is not enough for a good measure. But it is a start.

''There's part of being emotional both ways, where you can go the other way and it can get ugly,'' Bradley said. ''It's difficult for me to sit back and watch everybody winning, and that's probably the most difficult, just not being in the conversation. So it may not happen this week, but I know it's going to. It's feeling good.''

Soren Kjeldsen in contention

Just 18 months ago, Soren Kjeldsen was wondering how he'd survive in the world of golf's power hitters.

He's 5-foot-7 (1.70 meters). Hits his drives 280 yards. He was approaching age 40 and had plummeted the world rankings. How was Kjeldsen supposed to compete in the modern game of ever-lengthening courses, against the likes of Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, and Rory McIlroy?

''The graph was going down,'' the Danish player said.

Now it's on the up.

Thanks to a shift in mentality, a new caddie, and a big win, Kjeldsen is a changed man - and a contender at major championships.

After finishing tied for seventh at the Masters in April, Kjeldsen is in third place - three shots behind Phil Mickelson - at the British Open on Friday following rounds of 67 and 68. He'd previously only broken 70 in two of 20 rounds at golf's oldest major.

''You certainly heard that story before when people get to 40 and then it's downhill from there,'' Kjeldsen said. ''So I was fighting pretty hard but determined to get through, and it's nice being in this position now.''

A Scandinavian male has never won a major but the drought could end at Royal Troon. Sandwiching Mickelson (10 under) and Kjeldsen (7 under) is Henrik Stenson of Sweden, who is on 9 under.

Few can have thought Kjeldsen would bloom like this. In 2014, he had his lowest finish on the European Tour's Race to Dubai since his maiden campaign in 1998 and was ranked No. 367 in the world. He also had an inferiority complex.

''My problem was mainly on the tee shots,'' he said. ''I felt very insecure. I just felt really weak because I don't hit it a long way. You play with guys that are flying 320 (yards) and seem to hit it down the middle every time, and you do sort of wonder.

''I never considered not playing golf,'' he added, ''but I certainly considered if I was ever going to be good enough to continue to compete.''

Kjeldsen now has an open mind about that.

''We all have limitations,'' he said.

''I look at most of the top players, and one thing that's helped me quite a lot is getting to know the top players, I know what they struggle with. They've all got something. It doesn't matter how good you are, there's always a little ''if'' in there, some part of the game. So I've accepted that.''

Hiring Alistair Matheson as his caddie in 2015 was also significant. Within two weeks, Kjeldsen won the Irish Open in tough conditions for his first title in six years, and the Dane responded to Matheson's enthusiasm and can-do-better mindset.

Now Kjeldsen, with his bright blond hair and smiley demeanor, is a picture of serenity on the golf course.

At Troon, he made six birdies in his first round and then went bogey-free in the wind and rain for the third-lowest score among the morning starters in the second round. His short game, which he describes as ''very strong,'' is holding up as usual.

''I think the biggest difference now is like when I go into a major like this, I feel normal,'' Kjeldsen said. ''I don't make it more important than anything else really. I know the importance of the tournament, but I also know that for me to perform well, I need to get into my little world and get lost in that.

''And if I control what I can control, then I'm doing OK. And that's what I learned from Augusta.''

And if the wind is howling and the rain is pouring on the weekend, don't bet against the little Dane with the big heart.

''These conditions (are) what I grew up in,'' Kjeldsen said. ''I like playing this kind of golf. I like the battling mentality that you need to play. Yes, I do thrive in this.''

Bogies cost Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy had enjoyed a promising start to his second round at the British Open on Friday before his first bogey of the afternoon at the ninth.

The Ulsterman failed to convert his par putt on the 422-yard par-four to slip back to two-under for his round and four under par overall.

McIlroy had started with three birdies in his first seven holes and then did brilliantly to rescue a par at the short eighth after finding a bunker with his tee shot.

The 2014 Open champion and the rest of the field are fighting to keep up with clubhouse leader Phil Mickelson, whose second-round 69 left him at 10-under ahead of the weekend.

Also out on the course on a blustery but largely dry afternoon is world number one Jason Day, who was three-under for the day after 10 holes and one under par overall.

The Australian bogeyed the first on Friday but fought back with four birdies before the turn.

Meanwhile, Jordan Spieth is battling to make the cut, which is projected to come at two-over.

Texan Spieth began the day at level par but had slipped to four over after 12 holes.

He bogeyed the first, recovered a shot at the long fourth but then had another bogey at the sixth and a double-bogey at eight.

Spieth took two to get out of a greenside bunker at the postage stamp before requiring two putts. A wayward drive at 12 then led to him dropping yet another stroke.

Tough day for Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth wished he could go for "one or seven pints" with his friends after struggling through the second round of the British Open on Friday.

The Texan battled through miserable conditions in the afternoon to shoot a 75 that featured two birdies, four bogeys and a double-bogey.

After opening with a level-par 71, he now sits at four over par, right on the cut mark.

"We might have caught the rough end of the draw," admitted Spieth, who was one of many players left cursing their afternoon tee-times on Friday.

"That happens. I kind of shook it off to an extent at the end of the round. I just tried to smile, tried to enjoy the fact that you don't play in this often."

The rain had been off and on for much of the day -- leader Phil Mickelson was largely spared -- but it became incessant towards the end of Spieth's round and combined with howling winds coming in off the Firth of Clyde to make life increasingly tough for the field.

"You wish your score didn't matter when you play in this. You wish this was just a round with your buddies where you go into the clubhouse and have one or seven pints afterwards," added Spieth.

"But we had to post a score today, and I was really pleased with after the frustration of six and eight throwing me back, you know, we were able to play our last, what, six holes at even par, which is a really good score given the conditions we had."

Spieth's double-bogey came at the short eighth, the iconic Postage Stamp.

There his tee shot found a bunker to the right of the green and it took him two hits to get out as he had a five.

That was before the worst of the weather started to bite on the back nine, and the 2015 Masters and US Open champion admitted he couldn't remember having competed in such grim conditions.

"What we had on the 16th tee when I looked up and you see the sheets of water moving sideways, man, if I've played in that, it's been over here on a practice round day or I can't remember.

"I can't remember seeing the wind move a ball that much."

Out of contention on the leaderboard, Spieth now faces an early start on Saturday when the weather forecast does at least look better.

"I'll have to look at the conditions to make a somewhat, lofty, realistic goal. But it's certainly worth shooting after and trying to gain some momentum," said the 22-year-old, whose attention is already moving towards the final major of the year at the end of July.

"I'm looking to put nice, smooth, solid swings, very confident putts on it to lead into the PGA Championship, because I know my chances here are likely finished."

Scores

# Nat Selected Others Score Hole Today
1 USA Phil Mickelson -10 18 -2
2 SWE Henrik Stenson -9 18 -6
T3 DNK Soren Kjeldsen -7 18 -3
T3 USA Keegan Bradley -7 18 -3
5 USA Zach Johnson -5 18 -1
T6 USA Tony Finau -4 18 Par
T6 USA Bill Haas -4 18 -1
T6 RSA Charl Schwartzel -4 18 -5
T6 ENG Andrew Johnston -4 18 -2
T6 ESP Sergio Garcia -4 18 -1
T11 USA Kevin Na -3 18 -2
T11 USA Matt Kuchar -3 18 -3
T11 GER Martin Kaymer -3 18 +2
T11 ESP Rafael Cabrera Bello -3 18 Par
T15 USA Dustin Johnson -2 18 -2
T15 ITA Francesco Molinari -2 18 Par
T15 USA JB Holmes -2 18 -1
T15 USA Jim Herman -2 18 -1
T15 USA Patrick Reed -2 18 +3
T15 KOR Byeong Hun An -2 18 -1
T15 NIR Rory McIlroy -2 18 Par
T22 USA Rickie Fowler -1 18 +1
T49 AUS Jason Day +1 18 -1
T68 USA Jordan Spieth +4 18 +4
T68 USA Bubba Watson +4 18 +5




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