What began as a relatively favorable Friday morning for scoring at the 2013 British Open ended with wind gusts that exceeded forecast expectations, even drier conditions and a jam-packed leaderboard as a result.
European Tour veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez is the 36-hole leader at three under-par overall after a round of even-par 71. Jimenez continued to show a sensational short game and magnificently clutch putting in pursuit of his maiden major at age 49.
Only one stroke further back are a plethora of stars, though, headlined by Tiger Woods, who matched Jimenez's Round 2 score with a great birdie on No. 18.
Alan Shipnuck summed up the difficult circumstances faced in logging a comment from legendary commentator Peter Alliss:
Former world No. 1 David Duval noted that Woods should be tough to beat this weekend:
Pat Forde of Yahoo! was impressed with how well Jimenez ground through the treacherous course, which he compared to how Woods fared:
Also at minus-two are big hitters Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson, along with Englishman Lee Westwood, who matched the best score of the day with 68. It was a captivating, action-packed day of golf at Muirfield Golf Links, and other experts had plenty to say.
One sign of how tough conditions were in Gullane, Scotland was highlighted by the finish of 19-year-old prodigy Jordan Spieth, who missed a couple short putts coming in to finish at minus-one. Still, as Ron Green of Golf Week points out, he vaulted up the leaderboard:
Others weren't so lucky. Vijay Singh, a multiple major champion, was unfortunately well outside of the cut-line—and also on the wrong end of a joke alluding to his deer antler spray controversy (h/t Robert Lusetich of FOX):
What better expert to turn to than a caddie? Bubba Watson's close confidante, Ted Scott, noted the preposterous distances Watson hit some of his clubs in Round 2:
Although Angel Cabrera bogeyed the last to finish at minus-one, he's still merely two strokes behind. The Argentine's stellar play sparked this tweet from Golf Channel's Whit Watson:
Some of the top performers from Thursday had to tee off in the afternoon wave, and it was absolutely brutal at times. Phil Mickelson, one of the greatest putters in the world, three-putted from very close range:
It was really about three feet, but Mickelson reacted afterwards rather appropriately:
Shane Bacon of Yahoo! felt the greens were generally unfair in the context of how some of the game's best in Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker, Rory McIlroy and Woods had various, unusual low points:
Dan Jenkins of Golf Digest defended Muirfield, though, implying that this is how an Open Championship should be played:
33 players are within six shots of the lead entering the third round, so it should be a really tight tournament. However, it will be interesting to see how Woods handles himself on Saturday. According to Jenkins, the pressure is on:
As a 14-time major champion, Woods has never gotten it done in winning from behind. He'll have his work cut out for him to stand out from this world-class field entering the final 18 holes.