On the heels of a strong first round from Rory McIlroy Thursday at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, the rest of the field hopes to close the gap and perhaps even take over the lead during Friday's second round of The Open Championship.
The conditions were ideal Thursday in Hoylake, England, which allowed for plenty of low scores to be registered. Things haven't been quite as easy during the second round thus far, but a few players have been able to sink some birdies and improve their positioning.
With the second round still in progress, here is the updated British Open leaderboard along with a look at some of the biggest movers so far during Friday's round.
Players on the Move
With no PGA Tour wins and just one European Tour victory to his credit, it is fair to say that South Africa's George Coetzee was an under-the-radar player entering this tournament. That is no longer the case, though, as he managed to fire a three-under 69, which put him at five under par for the tourney. At the completion of Coetzee's round, that was good enough for second place—just one stroke behind McIlroy.
Coetzee's strong round was significant for many reasons, but the circumstances surrounding it had to make it extra special for him. According to PGA Tour on Twitter, Friday is Coetzee's 28th birthday, which means his ascent toward the top of the leaderboard is even sweeter:
George Coetzee is celebrating his 28th birthday today, and closing in on the lead with another birdie on 13. He's now 4-under. #TheOpen— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 18, 2014
In many ways, Coetzee's strong second round came from out of nowhere. Not only is he an unheralded player, but essentially everyone around him played average or worse early on Day 2 at Hoylake, per Mike O'Malley of Golf Digest:
25 groups on the course are a combined 86 over par. George Coetzee at three under for the day (five under overall) has the best round going.— Mike O'Malley (@GD_MikeO) July 18, 2014
Strong winds wreaked havoc on many of the players, but Coetzee believes that the conditions played right into his hands, according to SuperSport.com.
"I think the wind actually helped me a little bit really because of the way I shape the ball I could commit to it," Coetzee said, via Reuters.
Coetzee actually got to six-under at one point, which gave him a share of the lead. A couple bogeys knocked him back down, but he rebounded with a birdie finish on 18 to salvage a spectacular round. He'll sit and wait anxiously to see how the other top players perform, but he has to feel happy about his showing regardless.
After a disappointing three-under 75 to start his Open Championship, Gary Woodland knew that he was behind the eight ball at the commencement of the second round. Although Woodland didn't put himself among the leaders, his three-under 69 leveled his overall score to even and was tied for the best round of the day when he left the course.
Which second-round performance has most impressed you thus far?
The 30-year-old native of Kansas is an underrated player who has two PGA Tour wins to his credit. He has never registered a finish better than 30th at the British Open, but he generally tends to handle difficult conditions quite well, so he was viewed as a bit of a dark horse.
He has a lot of work to do in the final two rounds when it comes to truly getting into contention, but he has to be encouraged by his ability to bounce back and get into the fray to some degree.
Woodland's tournament didn't get off to an ideal start, but it's fair to say that he was well prepared. As seen in this photo courtesy of 6News-TV's Andrew Baker, Woodland played a practice round with Tiger Woods prior to the tournament:
Woods shot a three-under 69 in the first round, but it took Woodland a little longer to get going. Now that he has found his groove, though, it will be interesting to see how he plays for the remainder of the tournament.
Much like Woodland, D.A. Points entered the second round of the British Open in a do-or-die situation. An under-par round would put him in position to play the weekend, but anything worse than that very well could have resulted in him missing the cut.
Points rose to the occasion, though, with a three-under 69 to go to even for the tournament. Although there is still plenty of golf to be played during the second round, Points played himself above the cut line and into the weekend for all intents and purposes, per GlobalGolfPost.com:
Three 69s on the board in the early-going. George Coetzee, D.A. Points and Gary Woodland all safely inside the cutline. #TheOpen— Global Golf Post (@GlobalGolfPost) July 18, 2014
The 37-year-old Points is a veteran who has never had much success at The Open Championship. In fact, he has never made the cut, which means that his excellent second round should be a major confidence booster moving forward.
That doesn't necessarily mean that Points is going to put up two huge rounds and contend for the title, but simply having a chance to play Saturday and Sunday is a big deal. He has a lot of positive momentum working in his favor and that could very well lead to a more-than-respectable finish at Hoylake.
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