Johnson on top, Speith five behind, Woods misses cut


More than 24 hours after Dustin Johnson began his second round at the wind-lashed British Open he ended it still on top of the leaderboard on Saturday with Jordan Spieth trailing by five shots in a tournament that will now run into a fifth day.

With the wild Scottish weather showing scant regard for the world’s oldest major, Johnson finally completed the third installment of his round to card a three-under 69. A birdie after he drove the green on the par-four 18th saw Johnson lead with a 10-under total of 134, one shot better than England’s Danny Willett, who had a nice relaxed day in the clubhouse, and five ahead of Spieth who is tied for 14th.

Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, champion in 1999, completed a two-under 70 with eight straight pars to sit two shots back. South Africa’s Louis Oosthuisen, the last winner at St Andrews, and Australian Jason Day joined a log-jam on seven-under 137 which includes former Masters champions Zach Johnson and Adam Scott, both of whom enjoyed a day off. Willett had also completed his second round 69 on rain-hit Friday before darkness left 42 of the 156-strong field stranded and requiring an early alarm call on Saturday.

Only about half an hour was possible though at the start of the day as predicted winds gusting to 50mph swept in and began blowing balls around on the greens, forcing a suspension. During a 10 and a half hour wait, organisers issued regular updates before finally conceding defeat and announcing that the third round would be played on Sunday, with the fourth round on Monday for only the second time in its 144-year history.

Tiger Woods will not be around though as he missed consecutive cuts in majors for the first time in his career. Woods, who boasts two St Andrews Opens among his 14 majors, slumped to a three-over 75 to add to his opening 76. “I only made three birdies in two days,” he told reporters. “That’s not very good. The golf course wasn’t playing that hard, I just didn’t get much out of any of the two rounds.”

Johnson’s day did not get off to an encouraging start either as he strives for a first major after a series of near-misses. Having reached the edge of the green on the monstrous par-five 14 on Friday before play was suspended, he returned in the howling gale, replaced his ball, duffed a chip, watched his ball blown backwards down the slope, then three-putted. “I went to mark it. I was about an inch from the ground and it took off. I went to mark it again and it took off again. Jordan was running after his ball,” he said. “I wasn’t angry. I was almost laughing. But I was a little pissed when I made a bogey.”

When Oosthuizen’s ball also started being blown around the 13th green like a piece of litter, organisers were forced to call in the players. Eventually, the winds abated enough to allow a resumption in the evening and the crowds who had waited so patiently all day were at least rewarded with some dazzling play.

Johnson produced a beautiful links-style punch and run at the 17th to ensure a par after a poor drive over the Old Course Hotel but playing partner Spieth dropped a shot after three-putting. Both birdied the 18th while the third member of their group, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, signed for a 66 for a six-under total.

Spieth’s hopes of becoming the first man since Ben Hogan in 1953 to win the year’s first three majors are still alive but he will need to produce something special. The last five British Open winners at St Andrews have either been leading or shared the lead after 36 holes, although none of them have had to play five days in a row. The shot of the day came from Daniel Brooks who recorded a hole-in-one at the 11th but still missed the cut.