American Dustin Johnson overcame a 10-hour stoppage on an extraordinary day at St Andrews to retain the outright lead at the notional halfway point of the British Open.
The Open will conclude on a Monday for only the second time in its 155-year history after the R & A surrendered to the weather gods as 65km/hr winds rendered the Old Course unplayable for all but a couple of hours of desperate catch-up hours late on Saturday.
But Johnson refused to yield, picking up a birdie on the 18th hole in a three-under-par 69 to climb to 10 under for the championship.
Chasing his long-awaited first major title after several heartbreaking near misses, Johnson will carry a one-stroke buffer into Sunday’s rescheduled third round over Englishman Danny Willet (69), with Scotland’s 1999 champion Paul Lawrie (70) two strokes behind in third spot.
Australian pair Adam Scott (67) and Jason Day (71) are a further shot back in a tie for fourth with Scot Marc Warren (69), Americans Robert Streb (71) and Zach Johnson (71) and South African Louis Oosthuizen (70), the 2010 winner at St Andrews.
Forty-two players returned to the Old Course on Saturday morning trying to complete their second rounds after play was suspended for a first time the previous night following a three-hour delay to Friday’s tee-off because of a deluge that left the famous links course waterlogged.
But only 32 minutes were possible before officials sounded the horn as balls moved around on some of the greens, players unable to mark them before they rolled away.
It was enough time for Johnson to fluff his chip to the 15th green and drop a shot to slip back to nine under.
Playing partner Jordan Spieth, bidding to add the Claret Jug to his Masters Jacket and US Open title in a rare quest for golf’s grand slam, was heard to mutter: “We should never have started” when informed of the decision by a R & A official.
Spieth, though, returned with Johnson to finish his final three holes at 6pm, carding an even-par 72 to be five under and still well in the hunt for golf’s fabled grand slam.
Australians Steven Bowditch (69) and former US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy (68) were level with Spieth in a tie for 14th.
But Tiger Woods, the runaway winner at St Andrews in 2000 and 2005, missed the cut for consecutive majors for the first time in his illustrious career after slumping to a 77 and seven over for the tournament.
Legends Tom Watson and Sir Nick Faldo and two-times Masters champion Bubba Watson were other big names to miss the even-par halfway cut as the Open headed for its first Monday climax since Seve Ballesteros won at Royal Lytham and St Annes in 1988.