Rory McIlroy went from shooting a first-round 64—seven-under at Royal Aberdeen—to posting a seven-over in Round 2 of the Scottish Open. That's how crazy the conditions were. Phil Mickelson, with rounds of 68 and 73, had less drama but is just one shot better than McIlroy.
"I was just really pleased with how I controlled my game. I controlled my ball flight. Some of the shots that I was practicing over the last 10 days," McIlroy said after Round 1.
His first-round score of 64 included eight birdies and a bogey. He also drove the green—a belt of 436 yards including plenty of roll—on the par-four 13th. Although the hole was downwind, 436 yards is still ridiculous. (Why is the R&A worried about the length of the putter shaft when they should be looking at the ball and driver?)
"The only bad thing this year, you know, I've got off to a lot of good starts and then tended to fall away, so hopefully that won't be the same this thing," he said.
Ah, after Day 2, McIlroy is now officially an Irish medium. He was not so fortunate in the second round with six bogies, a double and a single birdie.
On the front side that includes two par fives playing downwind—where players need to score—he was two over par.
"It wasn't very good, but it wasn't the end of the world," he added. "And then the bogey on 10 was sort of from nowhere. And then the double on 12, and then to follow that up with the bogeys on 13 and 14 just sort of combined with what I'd done."
In short, he was seven over—not what he wanted.
"Just one of those days that nothing really went right, and you know, I'm here for the weekend at least. I'm only two shots off the top 10 somehow," McIlory observed.
Mickelson, typically known for wild swings in scoring, was far tamer, carding a 68 in the first round. He felt that he had a good putting day except for the last hole, which he bogeyed.
"I was surprised to see some of those low scores out there because it didn't seem like it was playing easy and the wind was pretty strong and the fairways were tight," Mickelson said after Round 1.
It got even harder in round two. Still, Phil being Phil, he embraced the day.
"It was fun," he said. "I made a couple loose swings and it cost me four shots. I hit three poor tee shots. It cost me four, but I fought hard all day to keep it around here."
The putting, he insisted, was the biggest issue with the winds blowing over the unprotected golf course.
"When you get a downhill putt that's with a direct cross wind, those are the hardest because you just don't know how much it's going to blow," he said. "I was looking at either two inches outside, up to 14 inches outside, just depending on how strong the wind was going to affect it, and you just don't know how hard or easy you're going to hit it."
Mickleson's second-round score was a one-under 73, leaving him at a shot ahead of McIlroy for the tournament.
Mickelson said he expected the lead to be no more than six under by the end of the second round. He was right on the number.
"If that's the case, I'm five back," he said about his guestimate of the 36-hole scores. "A good, hot round can get me in it for Sunday, and that's really the goal."
Were the conditions a little too taxing the week before the British Open?
"It is very mentally draining playing out there, because it's such a tough test, and I'm a little concerned that it's taken up a little bit more energy than I would like for next week," he noted. "But it's also a good opportunity to focus on some of the difficult shots that we'll have next week, so it kind of goes both ways."
Also in the field is Justin Rose, who is five-under and one shot back of leaders Ricardo Gonzalez of Argentina, Marc Warren of Scotland and Kristoffer Broberg of Sweden, all at six under.
Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour, European Tour or PGA of America.