Peter Allis’s admonition after Phil and Bones had a small Yalta conference before a 92-yard pitch on his third shot into the Par 5 16th ended up 40 feet right of the hole. The unfamiliar wind direction for the second round of the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool proved an enigma for the players leading to extra flipping of the pages of the yardage book trying to triangulate the appropriate shot playing lines for the day. Indecision was the watchword on a very difficult morning for scoring.
Peter Allis a breath of fresh English air……Embed from Getty Images
One of the coolest traditions of the Open Championship broadcasts is listening to the charismatic voice of Peter Allis. Allis has been involved with the Open Championship for over 60 years as a player and an announcer primarily for the BBC. But his guest appearances on the American broadcasts over the decades have provided insight and a true sense of the flavor of links golf.
To paraphrase a few Allisisms from today’s commentary:
On Rickie Fowler’s oversized hat…a golf hat shouldn’t cover your ears…it is hard to hear
On the current golf fashion preference…white trousers….dangerous
On a capable caddie…like a good wife…gives his man what he needs….
On today’s golf shoes…they used to be solid…with metal spikes….now they are like bedroom slippers
On a player on the bubble possibly making the cut….he should not be rushing to check airplane schedules
On iron man Ivor Robson, the legendary starter of the Open Championship, spending the entire day never leaving his assigned post next to the first tee….must have those special continence trousers used by the astronauts
The blustery wind for the morning wave made treading water an accomplishment. It was incumbent upon the players to find a line off the tee to deal with the wind that leaving the ball in the fairway with the proper angle into the day’s pins. Distance control into the greens from the weedy lies were very difficult to control especially downwind where more times then not the next shot was a low running recovery from behind the green. The front bunkers got lots of traffic on approaches into the wind without sufficient conviction.
They were all following Rory’s lead today….Embed from Getty Images
Typical were the morning rounds of defending champion Phil Mickelson and former Master’s winner Adam Scott. Coming off a mediocre 74 in the first round and a ragged start today Phil nearly jarred in on four to make a birdie and then eagled the par 5 fifth from a challenging lie. After another negotiation with Bones on shot intention from the high stuff at about 100 yards out on the final hole, he made birdie with a vintage Phil up and down to end the day at even par.
Scott stood at four-under and two back of Rory at the beginning of the day. He was all over the lot through the morning with four bogies in the first thirteen holes. But you just have to hang in and wait for the links goddesses to change their tune and Adam managed to birdie seventeen and eighteen to finish just one for the worse at 3-under at the end of the day.
Only birthday boy George Coetzee seemed to have the mojo in the morning posting 6 birdies on the way to 69 and reach 5-under one back from Rory McIlroy.
The wind tempered considerably for the afternoon wave and players seemed to take advantage of the opportunity resulting in jockeying at the top of the board.
Sergio hit it in the eighteenth fairway off the first tee on the way to an opening bogie and then stuffed it on two for an eagle to jump within one of the lead. Fowler bogied the second but found more of his first round magic with 3 birdies over the next nine holes to reach 5-under. Jim Furyk was steady and had reached the 5 under total as well. Francesco Molinari rode a hot putter to 6 birdies and rival Sergio’s 6-under.
As the afternoon wore on other name brand players like Charl Schwartzel, Dustin Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen, Hideki Matsuyama, and Ryan Moore all took advantage of the tamer winds to fill out the first page of this quality leader board.
With the first round lead at six-under Rory was fielding questions about how he would avoid another “Freaky Friday” score that have haunted his performances most of this season. He could not have felt good about the bogey on his first hole of the day, but as he has done in two previous major wins, he just seemed to slip into another gear with four birdies in six holes to reach 9-under and a three-shot lead after the tenth hole.
Rory must have experienced low blood sugar because only a couple of drive-by birdie putts that would not go in kept him from stretching the lead to five. With most of the pack now stalled at 6-under Rory put his foot to the floor making birdies on three of the last four to shoot a book end 66 to match his first day score and set the halfway bar at a lofty 12-under par. Only Dustin Johnson was able to keep within shouting distance with a 65 of his own and a second place total of 8-under.
All smiles for Rory….no Friday demons…..Embed from Getty Images
It seems that the only thing that can slow Rory down now is a large English low pressure system and some really foul play on his part. After all that, Rory looks poised for another major to go with his two previous ones at the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 PGA. As Peter Allis would say, when Rory is in the right state of mind he can play a tidy game of golf.