Early on Friday at The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, the Italian duo of Matteo Manassero and Francesco Molinari were proving that their first-round play was no fluke. Both streaked out to fast starts and a share of the lead with first-round leader Rory McIlroy, who didn't tee off until 9:27 a.m. ET.
Before long, McIlroy was already finding the going a bit rougher on Day 2 than he found it on Thursday.
He bogeyed his first hole to slip to five under par. Here's a real-time look at the leaderboard.
An Italian has never won a major championship in golf. There's still a long way to go, but the deeper we go into this year's Open Championship, and the longer Manassero or Molinari are in contention, the more that backstory will be pressed to the forefront.
After his five-under 67 on Thursday, Manassero was cautious as he discussed his chances of winning a major. Per Riath Al-Samarrai of The Daily Mail, the 21-year-old Italian said:
"The majors are hard to win for a young player, but they're hard to win for everybody. The more you play on these golf courses, the easier it's going to be to last the whole week."
So far, Manassero has made it look easy. Per British GQ, the young man is dressed for success thanks to this four-round setup from Ralph Lauren.
Tiger Struggles Early
The first two holes of the day were disastrous for Woods. He double-bogeyed the first and bogeyed the second hole to slip to even par overall.
After a three-under 69 on Thursday, he'd hoped to ride that momentum to another good performance on Friday. As of 11 a.m. ET, it wasn't too late, but with Manassero, Molinari and others surging, it's clear he needs to right the ship to preserve his chances of contending over the weekend.
Woods sounded so confident after his solid first round. Per ESPN's Bob Harig, the three-time Open champion said:
I knew I could do it. That's why I was telling you guys it was so important for me to play at Congressional. The fact that I was able to recover every day, and the fact that I was stronger, more explosive the more days I played.
I'm only going to get better from that point. And I'm getting stronger, I'm getting faster, I'm getting more explosive. The ball is starting to travel again. And those are all positive things.
It should be noted, Woods was two over par after the first two holes on Thursday. He was five-under the rest of the way, and that set up his solid round.
Perhaps he can duplicate that performance and jump back into contention.
The Projected Cut
Per The Open Championship website, the projected cut will be at three-over. Quite a few notables who had completed their second round are on the wrong side of that standard.
Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Billy Horschel and John Daly are four over par. Lee Westwood is three over.
Even more will begin or finish play below standard. There are only a few hours remaining before we head into stretch run at Royal Liverpool. The contenders will soon be separated from the pretenders.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!