After overnight rains, sun shines on Day 2 at Open

By Paul Newberry

Associated Press

Published: Friday, July 20 2012 3:00 a.m. MDT

Richard Sterne of South Africa plays a shot off the fifth tee at Royal Lytham & St Annes golf club during the second round of the British Open Golf Championship, Lytham St Annes, England, Friday, July 20, 2012.

Peter Morrison, Associated Press

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England — Heads up! Despite another morning that was custom-made for going low, they were spraying shots all over the place at a water-logged British Open.

Rory McIlroy knocked his ball onto an adjoining tee box at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Keegan Bradley got in plenty of work on their bunker shots. And no one took a bigger tumble than the big-hitting Belgian, Nicolas Colsaerts.

Perhaps the most surprising player of the opening round with a 5-under 65, Colsaerts played the first seven holes at 5-over par, tumbling off a leaderboard topped by Adam Scott.

McIlroy was forced into scramble mode by several wayward shots, most notably his second shot from the right rough at No. 3. He yanked it far left of the green, the ball plopping down on the fourth tee box and giving a bit of a jolt to Toshinori Muto, who was getting ready to hit his drive. McIlroy actually caught a break, his ball barely avoiding the thick rough, but he still took a bogey.

The young Northern Irishman also bogeyed the sixth, but a pair of birdies had him even on the day and 3 under for the tournament, right in the thick of things.

That was no longer the case for Colsaerts, who ran into trouble right away with back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 2 and 3. He totally fell apart at the par-5 seventh, normally one of the easier holes on the course. His third shot missed the green, winding up in that dreaded rough. He fluffed his escape, the ball going barely 10 yards, still in the tall grass.

Barely able to see it, Colsaerts took another whack and apparently missed. Finally, he chunked it out on his third try, the ball zipping over the green. A pitch and a putt left him with a triple-bogey 8.

Rickie Fowler, a contender last year at Royal St. George's, was erratic this time around. The American had only one par through the first seven holes, canceling out three birdies with two bogeys and a triple-bogey 7 at the third, leaving him 3 over for the tournament and facing the very real prospect of missing the cut.

The erratic play early on was a striking contrast to the opening round. Scott tied the course record with a 64 on Thursday, while 52 other players shot no worse than par. For the first time since 1998, no one in the 156-player field opened with a score in the 80s.

"It was just like a nice walk in the park," Scott said.

After heavy rain overnight inundated the course, turning some bunkers into ponds and prompting the R&A to request fans delay their arrival so the grounds could dry out, the second round began as scheduled under sunny, blue skies. There was just a hint of the feared breezes off the Irish Sea that give the links course its bite.

The rain which has soaked Britain throughout the spring and summer largely stayed away during Day 1, only to return with a vengeance during the night. One of the main spectator gates was closed at the start of play as workers furiously tried to push away all the standing water.

"We've had far more rain overnight than we were expecting, unfortunately," R&A chief executive Peter Dawson told BBC Radio. "But the course can take it as the drainage here is good. There is some standing water, but we can play golf, and the rules of golf will deal with the casual water."

The bunkers were the main issue. Already vulnerable to flooding because of the closeness of the sea and rains that have been over the top even by the standards of this water-logged nation, several traps had been transformed into mini-ponds by the latest batch of showers. There was also some standing water in the fairways, which the morning players tiptoed through after hitting their shots.

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