Ten Notes to Know: The Open, Round Two
1. Shane Lowry (-8) stumbled late in his round, but will hold a share of the 36-hole lead in a major championship for the first time in his career. Lowry is just the third player from Ireland in the last thirty years to hold a share of the 36-hole lead at The Open, joining Paul McGinley in 1996 (finished T-14) and Padraig Harrington in 2002 (finished T-5). Lowry has hit 78% of his greens in regulation through two rounds – this season on the European Tour, he’s hit just 62% – for a rank of 172nd.
2. J.B. Holmes (-8) is a 36-hole leader for the second time in a major – he led outright after round two of the 2008 PGA Championship. Funny enough, that tournament was won by Irishman Padraig Harrington – and now Holmes will be paired Sunday with Padraig’s countryman, Lowry. Holmes was not showing much form entering the week: he had withdrawn or missed the cut in six of his previous seven starts.
3. Lee Westwood (-7), in the 86th round of his Open Championship career, carded his second-ever bogey-free round. At age 46, Westwood is trying to become the oldest first-time major champion in men’s professional golf history. Lee has 18 career top-ten finishes in majors, third-most all-time among players who have never won one.
4. Tommy Fleetwood (-7) is just one back, as he looks to become the first Englishman to claim his maiden major win at The Open since Nick Faldo in 1987. Tommy is in the top-ten entering the third round of a major for the fifth time in the last three years. That includes the 2018 Open, where he was just one off the lead entering the weekend, but finished tied for 12th.
5. Brooks Koepka (-5) shot 69 on Friday, his 14th round in the 60s in his last 18 played in major championships. Koepka is the fifth player since 2000 to be in the top-ten through 36 holes of all four majors in a season, joining Tiger Woods (2002), Ernie Els (2004), Vijay Singh (2005) and Dustin Johnson (2015). Koepka is 35-under in the majors this year – that is tied for the third-best single season score to par in majors over the last thirty years.
6. Koepka is now 69-under-par in majors since the beginning of 2017, 37 shots better than any other player in that span (Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth are each 32-under-par). This is the fifth time in Brooks’ career he has opened a major with two consecutive rounds in the 60s – he went on to win two of the previous four instances.
7. Speaking of Spieth, he shot 67 on Friday despite only hitting five fairways in his round. Perhaps five is his lucky number – he hit five in three different rounds in the 2017 Open, which he won. Spieth is three back – 80 percent of Open Champions the last fifty years have been at or within three of the lead after two rounds.
8. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson both missed the cut. Amazingly, it is the first time in 83 career majors played together that they both have missed the cut.
9. The afternoon belonged to Rory McIlroy as he valiantly stormed back to nearly make the cut. Rory is just the second player in the last 25 years to shoot 65 or lower in a major and not make the cut – he joins Ben Curtis, who went 65-80 at the 2009 Open – in that unique club. This is only the second time McIlroy has missed the cut at The Open – the other time it happened, in 2013, he would return the following year and win the Claret Jug.
10. 1996 Champion Golfer of the Year Tom Lehman played his final Open round on Friday. Lehman holds a unique distinction at the top of the game: he is the only player in Official World Golf Ranking history to reach number one, but never play an official tournament ranked there. Lehman was the number one player in the world for one week in April of 1997. After a T-4 finish moved him to the top spot, he did not play the following four weeks. Lehman never reclaimed that top position again.