Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy and Steven Bowditch have added more than a coat of green and gold to the British Open leaderboard.
Scott defied deteriorating conditions at St Andrews to sign for a superb five-under-par 67 on Friday to surge to seven under for the championship to be just two behind English clubhouse leader Danny Willett.
Ogilvy (68) and Bowditch (69) joined Scott and Australia’s first-day pacesetter Jason Day in the top 10 midway through their Open tilts with equally impressive second-round fightbacks on Friday.
Scott, though, looked every bit a man believing he was finally going to lift the Claret Jug as he strode into the scorers’ hut following his unblemished round that featured five birdies and several more agonising misses.
The former world No.1 and Masters champion was labouring along, six strokes shy of the lead, heading to the ninth tee before igniting his round with three birdies in four holes.
A tap-in birdie at the par-4 last, after bombing a drive to just short of the green, completed his stirring fightback.
“Any time you can go bogey-free at a major, it’s going to be a good round. And in these conditions, it was really good,” Scott said.
“I kind of chipped my way around the golf course and never really seemed to get too far out of position, so I didn’t have to scramble too hard.
“I made a few good putts today because I left a couple out there yesterday, so it all kind of turned around, and very happy putting together 67.”
Scott’s back-nine blitz vaulted him past Day, who was due to tee off later on Friday afternoon at six under, and into a share of second place with American Zach Johnson (71) and Englishman Mark Warren (69).
First-round leader Dustin Johnson was also at seven under before starting his second round.
Ogilvy earlier overcame the disappointment of leaking five shots late in his first round to climb back to five under with his own back-nine recovery mission.
The 2006 US Open champion finished with a flurry with birdies on the 16th, 17th and 18th holes to join Bowditch at five under for the championship.
“Leaving here yesterday, it felt like I’d let a bit of an opportunity go away because it felt like this morning was going to be really hard,” Ogilvy said.
“But again, we missed the rain and got let off because we didn’t have to play in the rain.
“We definitely haven’t been hosed. It will be fun to watch if it does get windy.”
After a three-hour delay following overnight downpours and desperate efforts to mop up the waterlogged links course, Bowditch picked up three shots on the field.
But his red-figure round wasn’t without tension.
Bowditch feared he’d be penalised a shot after the ball moved before he attempted a three-foot putt for bogey on the perilous 17th road hole.
“I had a mind blank and I forgot they changed the rule. I went from making a pretty soft five to a really mad six to a felt-like-a-birdie-five again,” Bowditch said.
“I felt like I just won the lotto when he said no penalty.”