Darren Clarke, who’s making his 20th British Open start, recorded his second consecutive two-under 68 on Friday to take the lead on four-under par together with American Lucas Glover (70).
Friday, Glover who won the 2009 U.S. Open, played his 700th round that counted on the PGA Tour, and in 18 career rounds at the British Open, this week marks the first time he has put together back-to-back par-or-better rounds.
The last Open champion with facial hair was J.H. Taylor back in 1913 and the last winner with a full beard was Willie Park in 1875.
Clarke’s roller coaster second round included five birdies, an eagle (No. 7), one double bogey (No. 4) and three bogeys, together with eight pars.
Clarke, a 13-time European Tour winner, is making his third start at Royal St. George’s where he finished T39 in 1993 and T59 in 2003. In his 53 previous major championship starts, his best finish has been a tie for second at the 1997 British Open at Royal Troon.
The 42-year-old Ryder Cup player is seeking to become the second player from Northern Ireland to win the British Open. (Fred Daly won the Open in 1947 at Royal Liverpool.) Clarke is also hoping to join recent major champions from Northern Ireland, Rory McIlroy (2011) and Graeme McDowell (2010).
The top of the leaderboard after 36 holes looks like this:
1. Darren Clarke - 68-68—136 (-4)
1. Lucas Glover - 66-70—136 (-4)
3. Chad Campbell - 69-68—137 (-3)
3. Martin Kaymer - 68-69—137 (-3)
3. Thomas Bjorn - 65-72—137 (-3)
3. Miguel A Jimenez - 66-71—137 (-3)
The cut came at three-over 143—equaling the lowest in British Open history since 1898—with 69 professionals and two amateurs advancing. Just seven strokes separate those making the cut on the number from the lead group.
Dating to 1898, the cut has been 143 on seven occasions at the British Open, most recently at Royal Liverpool in 2006. It was also 143 at Royal St. George’s in 1993.
Luke Donald, currently ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, missed the cut with rounds of 71-75 in his 11th career British Open appearance. After missing the cut in his first five starts (1999, 2000, 2002-04), he had since reeled off five straight made cuts before 2011, with his best finishes coming the last two seasons (T5-2009, T11-2010). At the 2003 British Open at Royal St. George’s, Donald missed the cut with rounds of 76-79.
Five of the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking missed the cut, including No. 1 Donald, No. 2 Lee Westwood, No. 7 Matt Kuchar, No. 9 Graeme McDowell and No. 10 Nick Watney.