ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — For all the debate over whether the British Open should have started Saturday, Dustin Johnson only cared about the finish.
A second round that lasted nearly 39 hours due to rain one day and a raging wind the next finally ended with Johnson driving the 18th green and taking two putts from 150 feet for birdie and a 3-under 69.
That gave him a one-shot lead over Danny Willett of England, who for the second straight year did not hit a single shot in the British Open on Saturday. Last year it was because he missed the cut. This time it was because he finished his second round Friday.
Even a championship with 155 years of history can deliver a strange twist.
And there were plenty on the Old Course. Brooks Koepka refused to play when his ball wouldn't stay still on the 11th green. Jordan Spieth three-putted five times in one round. Tiger Woods posted his highest 36-hole in the British Open.
Rarest of all is that the wind delay that lasted more than 10 hours forced the first Monday finish in 27 years at the British Open.
Not so peculiar was Johnson atop the leaderboard at 10-under 134.
Paul Lawrie, the 46-year-old Scot who won a crazy Open at Carnoustie in 1999, played bogey-free over the final 14 holes for a 70 and was two shots behind. Louis Oosthuizen (70) and Jason Day (71) joined the large group at 7-under 137 that included Adam Scott and Zach Johnson, who finished Friday.
Spieth, going after the third leg of the Grand Slam, shot 72 and was five behind.
One month after a three-putt from 12 feet cost him a shot at the U.S. Open, Johnson walked the Old Course with a swagger. He did enough damage Friday that even a couple of bogeys didn't get him off track, and he showed in the short time he played Saturday he could handle the wind.
"Every aspect of your game is challenged," Johnson said.
As gusts began to top 40 mph when the second round resumed in the morning, Johnson chose to chip up the steep slope at the front of the par-5 14th green. He didn't hit quite hard enough. And then, the player with a reputation of being it too much of a hurry at the majors made the mistake of taking his time. An inch away from placing his coin behind the ball to mark it, a gust moved his ball and it picked up enough momentum to roll off the green and cause Spieth to jump out of the way.
Three putts later, Johnson had his second bogey of the week. One hole later, the R&A realized it was too windy to continue.
Johnson returned nearly 11 hours later, made two solid pars and finished with his birdie. It was the fourth time in the last six rounds at the majors that he has had at least a share of lead, though not when it mattered — at the end.
This might be his best chance yet.
Spieth three-putted for par on the 14th hole and swiped his putter in disgust as leaving two of those putts short. He had another three-putt from about 90 feet on the 17th hole. But he stayed in the game by driving the 18th green for a birdie.
"I believe I'm still in contention. I still believe I can win this tournament," Spieth said.
But after spending two days playing alongside Johnson, he also realized a third straight major will require some help.
"I need a really solid round tomorrow because Dustin is not letting up," Spieth said. "Dustin is going to shoot a good round tomorrow with less wind, and I'm going to need to shoot a great round to really give myself a chance."
The second round didn't finish Friday because a burst of heavy rain flooded the course. That was nothing compared with the gusts off the Eden Estuary, and the R&A knew it was going to be on the edge to play. R&A officials said they spent an hour on the 11th green — the most exposed part of the golf course — to make sure golf balls weren't moving. And then it started, and Koepka's ball wouldn't stay put.
He took nearly 30 minutes to hit one putt. He kept marking his golf ball and protesting with a rules official and finally said he wouldn't play when his ball moved a couple of inches on three occasions. A few holes ahead, Oosthuizen putted up to 3 feet on the 13th. A gust blew it a few feet away and, as the South African laughed at the absurdity, it moved about 8 feet away.
About that time, play was halted and didn't resume until 6 p.m.
It was the third straight time that an Open at St. Andrews was halted by wind — 2010 for the British Open and 2013 for the Women's British Open. The fullest grandstand was behind the driving range as players kept trying to stay loose in case the wind subsided, and it finally did.
Ultimately, what mattered was the finish.
Just not for Woods. He never had a realistic chance of making the cut. Needing mostly birdies, he resumed his round with three straight bogeys and shot 75 to finish his two rounds at 7-over 151. That was his highest 36-hole ever in the British Open, one month after his highest 36-hole total ever (156) to miss the cut in the U.S. Open.
Willett, meanwhile, also came to the golf course to practice.
"We had it yesterday, but they've had an extremely long day today," Willett said. "It's not ideal for the guys."