The British Open, golf's oldest major, whipped up a frenzy of action on Friday with howling winds that were a stark contrast to the mild conditions of Day 1. It didn't seem to affect Rory McIlroy, as he tallied a second-round score of 66 to hold his opening-round lead and move to 12-under heading into the weekend.
The variable conditions did impact some golfers, and perhaps no result was more surprising than Tiger Woods' disastrous finish to the second round.
Woods hit a triple bogey on the 17th hole and then had to birdie on the 18th to avoid missing the cut in consecutive tournaments for the first time in his career.
Woods appeared to be a legitimate threat after posting an opening round score of 69, but his five-over effort left him at plus-two for the day and right at the projected cut line, per PGA.com.
Here is the updated leaderboard from the end of Day 2.
GolfChannel.com's Jason Sobel offered up some insightful commentary on Woods' inability to dominate major tournaments:
Forget injury and scandal and swing changes. The fact that Tiger doesn't dominate par-5s anymore has been greatest impact on performance.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) July 18, 2014
Don't believe it? Check the numbers. Like this one, for instance: When he won at Hoylake in '06, he was 18-under -- and 14-under on par-5s.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) July 18, 2014
Indeed, Woods finished one-under on the par-five holes on Friday after starting off the day with a bogey and double bogey on his first two holes. Not a disastrous effort on the longer holes, but not enough to make up for his overall struggles.
McIlroy's continued brilliance on Day 2 was a wonderful sight. ESPN Stats & Info noted he matched a record in the process of his dominant display:
Rory McIlroy matches Tiger Woods' 36-hole scoring record for Royal Liverpool (132). #TheOpen— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 18, 2014
Many commentators were interested to see if McIlroy could avoid the "Friday Curse" that has plagued him in major tournaments. His up-and-down results have prevented him from making a strong push in most tournaments this year. For example, in the 2014 Memorial tournament, McIlroy followed up an opening round 63 with a score of 78.
ESPN Stats & Info noted just how poorly the Northern Irishman has played in the second round this year:
Rory McIlroy scheduled to tee off at 9:27 AM ET on ESPN. He leads TOUR in 1st-rd scoring avg, but ranks 181st in 2nd-rd scoring avg.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 18, 2014
He certainly put his misgivings to rest on Friday, braving the whipping winds and driving his shots off the tee with strength and confidence. CBS Sports' Kyle Porter noted his ridiculous length on his shots:
Rory goes out in 33 to get to 8 under. He's averaging 346.3 yards off the tee. LOL.— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) July 18, 2014
Dustin Johnson also made a spectacular run on Day 2, notching a 65 to move to eight-under and keep pressure on McIlroy.
Matteo Manassero struggled on Day 2 after finishing Thursday just a stroke behind McIlroy at the pinnacle of the leaderboard.
The 21-year-old showed his relative lack of experience in blustery, high-stakes conditions, hitting a second round 75 to finish at two-under for the tournament and well off the pace needed to keep up with the likes of McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler.
Garcia kept himself well within striking distance on Friday, finishing up at six-under after two rounds and notching a splendid eagle, via CBS Sports' Eye on Golf Twitter account:
Sergio gets to 5 under! https://t.co/cMciDjvJYQ— Eye on Golf (@EyeOnGolf) July 18, 2014
Fowler, a big fan of links golf, played another splendid round on Friday to remain within striking distance of his first major championship. He's posted back-to-back 69s to stay in the six-way tie for third place.
Phil Mickelson was pleased with his second-round 70, but he's even-par for the tournament and shouldn't be in the running for a top spot with so many other golfers handling the winds with aplomb on Friday.
"I have to play as well as I can with the conditions that I'm in," Mickelson said, via PGATour.com's Helen Ross. "If even par is the best I can do, that's all I can do. Now, I might be seven or eight back, but I can't control that. If I try to force it, I'm missing the cut."
CBS Sports' Kyle Porter gave a humorous update on Bubba and Tom Watson during Friday's action:
Tom Watson goes 73-73 and will be the only Watson to make the cut.— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) July 18, 2014
The elder Watson eventually finished at plus-two for the tournament after posting a second-round score of 73, while Bubba's even score on the day couldn't salvage his unfortunate four-over start on Day 1.
Which golfer's second-round performance was more surprising?
The draws and tee times will continue to play a crucial role in this tournament, as the varied winds can be ruinous to golfers for a couple of hours and then quickly die down and allow others to play with mild, predictable conditions.
The Open is never a tournament for the faint of heart, and, as it stands, some of the more experienced golfers on the PGA Tour populate the top of the leaderboard. McIlroy will be tough to chase down now that he has avoided a frightful Friday performance and should be extremely confident in his play on the weekend.