ST ANDREWS, Scotland - Inclement weather led to an incomplete second round at the British Open on Friday, but Dustin Johnson ploughs on regardless.
Johnson holds a slender one-shot lead overnight, although due to a flooded Old Course at St Andrews on Friday morning, Johnson is among 42 players who have to return Saturay morning at 7 a.m. (2 a.m. Eastern time) to resume the second round.
"I'm in a good spot," said Johnson, who is at 10 under par. "Definitely got very tricky this afternoon, all day. Even the front side, the wind was howling and it was blowing straight left to right pretty much. It played very tough all day."
The group of Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama will take up their positions on the 14th hole in the morning, with Spieth having slipped five shots behind his compatriot-playing partner.
In anticipation of Friday's early deluge, Open organizers at the R&A sandbagged the street outside the media center and at other vulnerable spots. The rains duly arrived overnight, puddles on the Old Course became ponds and ducks paddled on the greens. The morning's golf was delayed by 3 1/2 hours to allow the waterlogged Old Course to dry out.
When play resumed under sunshine and a slight breeze, England's Danny Willett took advantage of the soft greens and ideal scoring conditions, shooting 69 for a 36-hole score of 9-under 135. With Johnson five holes short of finishing, Willett was the overnight leader in the clubhouse.
"It's a childhood dream [to lead The Open]," Willett, 27, said after his round. "Looking up to the leader board is still a little bit surreal, but something I am going to have to get used to; otherwise there is no point being up there."
Willett was ranked the No. 1 amateur golfer in the world before he turned pro in 2008, having spent two years playing for Jacksonville State University in Alabama.
Willett could sit back as the day's late starters put on their chase. Johnson, Spieth and Matsuyama did not tee off until 5:48 p.m., but the delay did nothing to slow Johnson's progress. His unerring power and accuracy off the tee set up four birdies in the first 10 holes to open a two-shot lead over Willett.
But as the light started to dim on the back nine, the temperature plummeted and the winds stiffened, twice Johnson backed off a four-foot putt for par on the par-3 11th. Standing tentatively over his ball, it looked every bit like his final miss at Chambers Bay last month, which cost him a playoff with Spieth in the U.S. Open. At Chambers Bay, he pulled the putt; this time, he pushed it right of the hole, to post his first bogey of the British Open.
Scotland's Paul Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion, and Australia's Jason Day, are both well placed a shot behind Willett at 8 under midway through their second rounds, and Adam Scott hurtled up the leader board by shooting 5-under 67 to share fifth place with four others.
Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, would have won the British Open at Royal Lytham in 2012 had he not missed putts for par at each of the final four holes to hand the Claret Jug to Ernie Els.
"I definitely let that one slip [in 2012]," Scott said Friday. "I would love to be sitting here having won The Open, but I'm going to have to work hard for it. You know, I think I'm playing with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder."
Watson says goodbye
As the twilight darkened at St Andrews on Friday night, and with the gallery and R&A members assembled around the 18th green, the final putt of the day was played by Tom Watson, as he completed his stellar British Open career 40 years after it began. He is likely to finish last at 12 over, but his fans here will remember better the five times he lifted the Claret Jug.
"There were no tears," Watson said. "This is a joyous occasion. I have a lot of great, great memories. And those memories filled me up."With AP