Justin Rose had a driver in his bag from the start of play yesterday, but it was a another which did most to boost his chances of a third win in succession in the Open Championship.
A mix-up with clubs made for two of his caddie’s friends meant Rose was only reunited with his driver on the third hole of his opening round on Thursday, although he insisted it did not affect his game plan.
A round of 72 left the 2013 US Open champion six shots off the pace, but a second round of 70 in tough conditions kept his dreams of a second major title alive, thanks largely to chipping in twice in succession with a pitching wedge.
“I was pleased with that,” Rose said. “It was difficult out there and that was probably just good enough to keep me right in it. I couldn’t have asked more out of the day, to be honest with you.
“It was tough out early and I was one over through seven. I had a couple of nice strokes of fortune around the turn, chipping in at nine and 10 for a birdie and an eagle which felt like I got my championship going.
“I made a nice par save on eight too so if I do go on to win, that little stretch there would be a turning point for sure. But all it’s done right now is given me an opportunity going into the weekend.
“It feels right now that we’re on the wrong side of the draw. There’s always a tipping point with links course. I think with a 10-15mph breeze it’s sort of fun to play. If it gets over 15, if it gets toward 20mph which I would imagine it did (yesterday), that’s when it gets quite extreme and quite difficult.”
Phil Mickelson admits his Open win at Muirfield last year has made him more accepting of the vagaries of links golf.
Mickelson carded a second round of 70 for a halfway total of level par, despite seeming to have played in the worst of the conditions each day.
“If the wind stays up, absolutely I am (still in the tournament), but I have a feeling that the conditions are supposed to get softer (yesterday afternoon),” Mickelson said. “If that’s the case I’ll be quite a ways back. But Saturday when the conditions come in (rain is forecast), there’s going to be a lot of scores that go five, six, seven over par. If I can shoot something under par, I’ll be right in it for Sunday.”
Mickelson’s win at Muirfield came in his 20th appearance in the Open and leaves him just needing to win the US Open to complete a career grand slam.
The 44-year-old added. “I’m more accepting of the fact that I’m on the poor end of the tee times. I’ve also been on the good end of the tee times and you accept that as part of the tournament.”