American Dustin Johnson has retained his one-shot advantage over the large chasing pack during a rain-hit second round of the British Open at St Andrews.
An overnight downpour that flooded the famous Scottish links layout delayed Friday’s start by three hours and left a quarter of the field, including Johnson and playing partner Jordan Spieth, unable to finish their second rounds.
But when play was suspended just before 10pm local time, Johnson had completed 13 holes and was still clinging to a one-stroke buffer he earned with his opening six-under-par 66.
Chasing his first major title, Johnson went two clear after picking up four birdies in 10 holes before dropping his first shot of the tournament with an edgy three-foot missed putt on the par-3 11th as fierce winds buffeted the Old Course.
But the 31-year-old, who had an eagle putt to win last month’s US Open only to take three to get down from 15 foot to hand Spieth the title, remains on course to break his grand slam duck at the home of golf.
Johnson is one in front of clubhouse leader Danny Willett, who is striving to become the first Englishman since Nick Faldo in 1992 to win the Open after adding a 69 to his first-round 66.
A host of Australians remain in the hunt for the Claret Jug, led by perennial major contender Jason Day and former Masters champion Adam Scott.
Day defied the deteriorating conditions to pick up two strokes through 11 holes with birdies on the first, seventh and ninth holes – plus a bogey on No.2 – to move to eight under for the championship in a tie for third with Scotland’s former winner Paul Lawrie.
Scott fired a stylish 67, never looking like dropping a shot, to climb to seven under alongside Scottish hope Marc Warren (69), Americans Zach Johnson (71) and Robert Streb (71) and South African Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 champion at St Andrews who was playing alongside Day and Tiger Woods.
Spieth, seeking history with what would be his third straight major to open the season, was unable to make up any ground through his first 13 holes and remained at five under.
Woods, who won the Open twice at St Andrews in 2000 and 2005, is almost certain to miss the projected even-par halfway cut after slipping to five over for the tournament through 11 holes.
Legends Tom Watson and Sir Nick Faldo have played their last competitive rounds at the home of golf after also missing the cut.