Windy, rainy Royal Troon claims its victims

Steve Douglas
Associated Press

Troon, Scotland — With his cap on backward, Billy Horschel placed his ball on the tee and smashed his drive down No. 18 without even taking a practice swing.

After the biggest second-round collapse in British Open history, the American might already have been thinking of home.

The cut mark dropped to 4-over par late Friday after a flurry of high scores in the wind and rain among the afternoon starters at Royal Troon.

Bubba Watson and Danny Willett, both Masters champions, made clutch putts at the last hole to make the weekend. Others, including Horschel, were too far gone by the time they reached the 18th.

Horschel, who began the second round at 4 under, made four double bogeys or worse and shot the high score of the day, 14-over 85. Only one player in British Open history had a larger differential than Horschel’s 18 shots between the first and second rounds. Robin Davenport went from a 94 to a 72 in 1966 at Muirfield.

No player has had a bigger meltdown over the first two rounds, and Horschel’s 18-stroke variation is the biggest at the Open since Colin Montgomerie went 64-84 in his second and third rounds at Muirfield in 2002.

Horschel wound up on 10 over par.

Former champion Louis Oosthuizen, who lost out to Zach Johnson in a three-man playoff at St. Andrews last year, made 9 on the par-4 11th and shot 12-over 83. The South African had a 12-over total and, as the world No. 14, was the highest-ranked player to depart.

The only time Oosthuizen had a score better than par over his 36 holes was his hole-in-one on No. 14 in the first round.

Shane Lowry, the 54-hole leader at last month’s U.S. Open, battled hard to shoot an even-par 71 in the afternoon but was undone by his opening-round 78.

“I played like Ben Hogan today and Hulk Hogan yesterday,” Lowry said.

Two-time Open champion Ernie Els would have made the cut with a par on No. 18. He drove into a fairway bunker and made bogey.

Hideki Matsuyama of Japan covered his face with his cap after shooting 78 in his second round. Playing in a standout group with Rory McIlroy and Watson, the 17th-ranked Matsuyama had an 8-over total.

Former Open champions Justin Leonard, Todd Hamilton, and Mark Calcavecchia all missed the cut. As did another, Ben Curtis, who visited three separate bunkers and took six shots in the sand to make 10 on the third hole. He shot 83.

Paul Dunne was the joint third-round leader at St. Andrews in 2015, when he was an amateur. He didn’t make the weekend in his first Open as a professional after shooting 77-78.

Timing is everything

Jason Day went through four pairs of gloves, trying desperately to stay dry in the pounding rain. At one hole, he accounted for the howling wind by aiming his shot toward the Irish Sea.

Call it the luck of the draw at the British Open.

For those who teed off Friday morning, the stormy weather hung off in the distance, giving them a chance to put up some low numbers before things turned nasty at Royal Troon. For those going off later in the day, well, there wasn’t much to do except try to limit the damage.

“You’ve got to understand that some people get lucky, some people get unlucky,” said Day, the world’s top-ranked player and one of only four golfers to break par in the afternoon. “You’ve got to take what you get and roll with it and try to do the best job you can.”

Having barely made the cut, Jordan Spieth moaned about “sheets of water moving sideways” as he stood at the 16th tee. McIlroy, one of the biggest hitters in the world, had a drive that went only 230 yards after getting caught up in the gusts. Day didn’t even bother trying to reach the green in two shots at No. 15, the longest par 4 on the course.

Bradley in the hunt

This is the last of Keegan Bradley’s 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 good news Friday: His name was on the leaderboard.

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.

“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.”