Rory McIlroy's hot play continued Friday at Hoylake, as the two-time major winner posted his second consecutive 6-under par 66, allowing him to build a four-shot lead over Dustin Johnson heading into the weekend at the 2014 British Open.
After opening with a bogey on the first, McIlroy was in complete control all day Friday and while he did benefit from the afternoon draw, Dustin Johnson was the only player in the field who was able to best the 66 posted by 25-year old from Northern Ireland. Through two rounds, he's birdied six of the eight par-5s and is averaging a ridiculous 333 yards from the tee, which is more than 50 yards above the field average.
McIlroy is always an aggressive player, which leads to those high scores and poor finishes at times, but as Fowler said, when he's hitting the driver like he's been over the first two days, he's a very difficult player to stop. Being able to baby a wedge onto the green on 17 after hitting it 396 yards from the tee makes scoring a whole lot easier. He's in complete control right now, but obviously the Open's far from over and with the guys that are behind him on the leaderboard, he's going to need to keep this up as there are no poor players at the top. Guys like Johnson, Sergio, and Fowler all have the ability to go low.
In his first two major wins, Rory lapped the field by eight shots. If he keeps this up, we could be looking at something similar happening again.
It's been a long time since Tiger has played this complete of a round.
That was me Thursday in my Day 1 recap, and Friday was the absolute opposite for Tiger Woods. Once again, he struggled out of the gate, playing the first two holes in 3-over par, and he followed that up with 14 straight pars, which would have been fine if the morning conditions had stuck around for the afternoon, but too many players were moving past him and up the board. It was slowly slipping away from him and then he sliced his tee shot on 17 out of bounds, leading to a triple bogey. He was able to make his first birdie of the day on 18 to get to 5-over par 77, allowing him to avoid missing two consecutive cuts for the first time in his career as a professional.
So, what do we make of this? It's easy to pile on Tiger at this point, but with this being only his fourth competitive round in the last three and a half months, this really shouldn't be that shocking, even with the way he played yesterday. He simply hasn't had the competitive reps that he needs to contend on a consistent basis, which is why him making that putt on 18 was so important.
Tiger, much like most golfers, plays a very similar schedule every season and rarely deviates. After this, he'll head back to the States and defend at the Bridgestone and then he'll play the PGA Championship at Valhalla. He could add other events his schedule, but it would be a surprise. With how long he was out injured, he's probably not going to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs unless he goes on a huge run this weekend and in the next two events, and while ordinarily that wouldn't likely mean much to him, the Ryder Cup is also on the line, and he's nowhere near qualified for that either.
After the round, Tiger talked about how he thought he still had a chance and while that's probably not what he actually thinks, just being around for the weekend is a big thing for him as he moves forward in 2014. His thoughts have now likely shifted to Valhalla and the Ryder Cup, and the next two days are crucial as he prepares for those two events.
Most of the guys at the top of the leaderboard right now came from the afternoon tee times, and a lot of that had to do with the weather. Heavy winds combined with the heat made for a completely different course Friday morning, and while the wind Friday afternoon was stronger than anything the players experienced Thursday, those who teed off late in the second round really had a huge edge. George Coetzee was out early Friday morning and somehow shot 69, leading many to think that his 36-hole total of 5-under par was going to hold up as the lead number at the end of the day, but at seven shots back, he's still in good shape.