A sensational round from Brian Harman gives the American a five shot lead heading into the weekend, whilst defending Champ Cam Smith eagles the last to make the cut
The issue around bunkers didn’t go away for day two at Royal Liverpool, in fact, discussion around them started even before the first ball was hit.
Many players had found themselves close to the face on a number of occasions on Thursday, which had made from some awkward shot executions:
As well as some spectacular ones:
The R&A released the following statement on Friday morning:
“We would like to advise you of an adjustment we have made to the way the bunkered are raked overnight. Yesterday afternoon the bunkers dried out more than we had seen in recent weeks and that led to more balls running straight up against the face than we would normally expect. We have therefore raked all the bunkers slightly differently to take the sand up one revet on the face of the bunkers. We routinely rake bunkers flat at most Open venues but decided this adjustment was appropriate in light of the drier conditions which arose yesterday. We will continue to monitor this closely for the remainder of the Championship.”
McIlroy, amongst others, welcomed the change:
“I hit a 4-iron into the 5th hole today, and it pitched on top of the bunker and came back in, and I thought it was going to be, like I didn't know at this point that they'd made that little gradual rise up into the face, and when I got up there, I was pleasantly surprised that I had a shot. Yeah, I wouldn't say there's one person in the field that wouldn't welcome that change.”
17th hole drama
The new short hole on the course was always going to provide drama this week. As The Open Guide states:
The views are stunning and the setting dramatic, with an infinity green that plays directly out towards the ocean and Wales.
The green is raised above the player significantly and the sea of bunkers and huge fall-off areas to all sides, including all the way to the green, provide a striking scene. It is absolutely essential to hit the green as any miss will leave a devilishly difficult up and down.
Once on the green, the undulations are considerable and making putts is not easy.
Sublime to ridiculous?
Out in the fifth group today was Australian Travis Smyth, at +10, he wasn't going to be playing at the weekend but he received a fantastic consolation prize of being the first professional to ace the new 17th hole:
Whilst in the afternoon, 2022 U.S. Open Champion Matt Fitzpatrick hit his tee shot over the back left side of the green and then took three shots to get out of the "bunker" to end up in another greenside bunker. Getting up and down and having to sign for a triple-bogey six.
We're sure there is plenty more discussion to be had about this whole as the weekend progresses.
Round of the day
The round of the day went to American Brian Harman who shot a sensational six-under-par 65 to take a five-shot lead into the weekend. The 36-year-old's round was two shots better than anyone else in the field.
With four birdies in the first five holes Harman settled in for a solid round of golf which saw the icing on the cake when he eagled the final hole:
"Made two really nice pars on 16 and 17. I think that's just as important, to where I felt kind of freed up on 18, and I made probably my two best swings of the day and got up there to 12, 15 feet for eagle."
Harman has held a lead in a Major before but he is going to try to not let that affect him as it did before:
"I just probably thought about it too much. Just didn't focus on getting sleep and eating right. So that
would be my focus this weekend."
Royal Liverpool was his first Open Championship back in 2014, so it's fitting to see him play so well this week.
Local favourite and day one co-leader Tommy Fleetwood is on five-under-par after an even par round with Austrian Sepp Straka a further shot back and Australians Min Woo Lee and Jason Day plus India's Shubhankar Sharma at three-under-par.
Making the cut
As the day progressed, it seemed that some big names wouldn't be playing this weekend - included in that was defending Open Champion Cam Smith and World Number one Scottie Scheffler. But both came in with an eagle and birdie respectively to make it into the weekend. Smith on +2 and Scheffler on the cut mark at +3.
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