Sunny Muirfield still showing its bite at the Open

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 19, 2013 at 8:50 am •  Published: July 19, 2013
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GULLANE, Scotland (AP) — Another sunny day along the Scottish coast. Another perilous test on the links of Muirfield.

With first-round leader Zach Johnson still waiting to tee off Friday in the second round of the British Open, it was tough for anyone to make much of a charge.

This was more about surviving.

Lee Westwood was one of the few morning starters to put up a score in the 60s, but even he was staggering a bit by the end. After a brilliant front nine — he carded five birdies — the 40-year-old Englishman bogeyed three of the last six holes to finish with a 3-under 68.

Still, that was enough to move him into contention for his first major title. As Westwood walked toward the clubhouse for a bite of lunch, he was at 2-under 140 overall, just three strokes off Johnson's 5-under 66 from Day 1.

The last English golfer to win the British Open was Nick Faldo in 1992.

Tiger Woods was trying to break a drought of his own. He's 0-for-20 at majors since the 2008 U.S. Open. Despite missing a couple of short putts, including a 30-incher that lipped out of the cup at the fourth, Woods was plodding along at 1 over for the round with a couple of holes to play.

That kept him solidly in the mix after an opening 69.

The weather has been unseasonably warm and dry, the fearsome wind not much more than a gentle breeze, and it was expected to stay that way through the weekend. Even so, there weren't many chances for going low, not on a rock-hard course that is more brown than green, with pin conditions that some players complained were downright unfair.

Even though he started with a 69, Phil Mickelson was concerned about some hole locations being too close to the edge of slopes. He pleaded with the Royal & Ancient to let go of its ego and "just set the course up the way the best players can win."

Mark O'Meara, the 1998 Open champion, countered that he's played in much tougher conditions, perhaps emboldened by a surprising 67 that left him just one stroke behind Johnson. But the course bit back Friday, sending the 56-year-old tumbling out of contention. He lost his ball at No. 6, leading to a double-bogey, and stumbled to the finish with a 78.

"It's pretty simple: If you don't hit it good in an Open championship with the rough the way it is out there, you're going to make some bogeys," O'Meara said. "The short game is key. You have to putt well. I did none of those well."

O'Meara wasn't the only old-timer to fall back. Fifty-four-year-old Tom Lehman followed a 68 Thursday with a 77 less than 24 hours later.

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