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British Open 2016: Updated Leaderboard for Friday at Royal Troon Golf Club

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2016

Phil Mickelson of the United States play his tee shot at the 13 thduring the second round of the British Open Golf Championship at the Royal Troon Golf Club in Troon, Scotland, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Peter Morrison/Associated Press

After a fairly calm opening round, rainy and windy conditions hit Royal Troon Golf Club in Ayrshire, Scotland, Friday, creating a tricky environment for the world's best golfers in the second round of the British Open.

Phil Mickelson entered Friday with the lead after a 63 in the first round, tying the major record, and while his second-round performance was nowhere near as dominant, he once again entered the clubhouse with the lead by virtue of a two-under 69.

Here is a look at the current state of the leaderboard at the Open Championship, along with further analysis of the top contenders.

           

Live Leaderboard

                

Phil Mickelson

Mickelson turned in what may have been a once-in-a-lifetime performance in Thursday's first round, coming one lipped putt away from setting a major tournament record with a 62. He didn't flirt with history Friday, but his two-under round was enough to keep him in the lead.

Aside from a pair of bogeys, Lefty remained locked in. That was especially true on the par-three eighth, as he stuck a beautiful tee shot next to the pin and tapped in for birdie, as seen in this video, via The Open:

The Open @TheOpen

Watch: More Mickelson magic at the Postage Stamp #TheOpen https://t.co/flGLGFJ3qt

The 46-year-old veteran's putter continued to be red-hot, too, as he drained a number of impressive putts, including this birdie on the 14th:

The Open @TheOpen

Watch: Phil Mickelson extended his lead with a brilliant birdie putt at the 14th #TheOpen https://t.co/7imMrJETP8

The Open Championship doesn't generally yield low scores, but Mickelson and a few others have mastered the links course despite poor weather conditions through two rounds.

In fact, Mickelson set a 36-hole record at Royal Troon after turning in a solid second round to complement his dominance in the first, per the European Tour:

The European Tour @EuropeanTour

Lowest 36 hole scores at Troon: 132: Phil Mickelson 2016 133: Darren Clarke 1997 133: Bobby Clampett 1982 #TheOpen https://t.co/oGuYd13HJg

Several talented golfers are hot on Mickelson's trail, but he has a big advantage as a five-time major winner, including an Open Championship in 2013.

He knows how to get the job done on the big stage, while most of those who are chasing him have yet to win a major title.

Lefty tends to have wild swings in his performances and has struggled to string together four great rounds in a row this year, but if his next two rounds resemble anything close to his first two, he is in prime position to hoist the Claret Jug for the second time.

           

Henrik Stenson

While Mickelson is still in the lead, his advantage is far from secure, as Henrik Stenson pulled to within one shot of the top spot with a six-under 65 Friday.

According to Justin Ray of GolfChannel.com, that marked a personal-best round for the Swede in a major:

Justin Ray @JustinRayGC

.@henrikstenson: 65 ties lowest career round in a major (1st round at Chambers Bay last year). #TheOpen

In addition to that, Stenson turned in his best 36-hole performance at a major by following up a first-round 68 with his excellent second-round 65, per PGA Tour Media:

PGA TOUR Communications @PGATOURComms

Henrik Stenson bests his low opening 36 in a major by one – 134 at the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill (he finished third).

The 40-year-old veteran is regarded as one of the best golfers to never win a major, although he has come close on several occasions.

Stenson has had finishes of fourth or better in the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship, but sealing the deal has proved elusive.

While Stenson finds himself in a fairly familiar position, the fact that his play is trending upward bodes well for his chances, especially if Mickelson's performance drops off in even the slightest way during the third round.

           

Soren Kjeldsen

Following a first-round 67, Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen continued his solid play Friday at Royal Troon, posting a bogey-free, three-under 68 to improve his overall score to seven under par through two rounds.

Kjeldsen made few mistakes in the second round, which was no small feat considering how difficult the weather made life for many of the other golfers on the course.

The 41-year-old veteran has a track record of excelling in tough conditions, though, according to BBC Sports' Joel Taggart:

Joel Taggart @TaggartJoel

Soren Kjeldsen worth keeping an eye on. Won Irish Open in horrific weather conditions at RCD last year. Thought 150-1 was generous.

Despite that and the fact that he has enjoyed a fairly long and successful career, Kjeldsen has never had much success in major tournaments.

Per Ray, Kjeldsen is in the midst of his best start to a major by far:

Justin Ray @JustinRayGC

Soren Kjeldsen is 41 & has played 525 @EuropeanTour events. This is his lowest 36-hole score in a major by 6 strokes. #TheOpen

The odds aren't necessarily on Kjeldsen's side considering some of the big names he is up against, but he hasn't beaten himself yet, and that is key in a tournament as grueling as the British Open.

Since 2016 has already produced two first-time major champions in Danny Willett and Dustin Johnson, Kjeldsen's chances can't be discounted, especially if he continues to avoid bogeys like he did Friday.

         

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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