The 2020 PGA champion was at his best on Friday at Royal St George's
Morikawa Makes Ominous Move On Day Two At The Open
A dazzling iron display from Collin Morikawa saw him take the clubhouse lead on day two at The Open.
The American was in scintillating form, stringing together a series of pinpoint approach shots en route to seven birdies in his first 14 holes that had many eyeing up a course and tournament record tally.
A bogey at the 15th halted the 24-year-old in his tracks before three pars to finish got him into the house with a 64 and a three-shot advantage.
Asked about the secret to his play over the first two days, Morikawa cited his experience in Scotland last week as a major factor not only in getting adjusted to a different style of golf, but also in terms of tweaking his club set-up.
“I wouldn’t be here through these two rounds if I hadn’t played last week at Scottish,” he said. “I’ve played in firm conditions. I can think of places I’ve played in tighter, drier conditions, but just having fescue fairways and the ball sitting a little different was huge to see last week.
“I changed my irons, my 9 through 7-iron that I normally have blades in. I changed to the MCs strictly because I couldn’t find the centre of the face. I was sitting these iron shots last week that I just normally don’t and my swing felt good, but it was a huge learning opportunity.
“Yesterday I thought I played really well. Just wasn’t hitting as many fairways. Was able to hit a few more fairways early on in the round today.
“When I’m in the fairway with a 9-iron or 8-iron I feel very comfortable. Not necessarily going straight at the pins but being aggressive with the lines I need to take and slopes you need to play.
“Sometimes you have those days where you’re very fortunate.”
Behind the 2020 PGA champion are South African duo Louis Oosthuizen, who gets his second round underway at 2.59pm local time, and Daniel van Tonder, who added a 66 to Thursday’s 68 in his first Open appearance.
They are joined by Emiliano Grillo, with the Argentinian mixing nine birdies with three bogeys to match Morikawa’s 64, and Marcel Siem, who continues to entertain the galleries on his 14th straight start.
Five-under men Jordan Spieth and Brian Harman will be a feature of the afternoon coverage from Royal St George’s as the Kent links begins to firm up in the warm and blustery conditions.
Elsewhere, Tony Finau bounced back from a disappointing double-bogey to finish his opening round to post a four-under 66 that will ensure he is among Saturday’s late starters.
In one of the morning’s marquee groups, Rory McIlroy got off to the worst possible start, bogeying his opening two holes to move outside of the predicted cut line. However, the Northern Irishman has since threatened to spark into life, steadily getting back on track with three birdies that have him the right side of par with four holes to play.
Alongside McIlroy, Cameron Smith has quietly gone about his business and finds himself in the group at four-under, while it’s been another disappointing day for Patrick Reed. The American is three-over for the championship and in real danger of an early exit.
Similarly, it’s been a frustrating Friday for Justin Thomas, who has failed to take advantage of some fine tee-to-green play. One birdie, one bogey and an eagle has the popular American at level-par for the tournament but it could have been much better had a few more putts fallen his way.
And what a morning Germany’s Matthias Schmid had himself. The youngster fired an impressive 65 to tie the lowest score recorded by an amateur at The Open. He is at one-under and will be around for the weekend to compete for the Silver Medal.
Andy Sullivan leads the home challenge currently at -5, with Danny Willet and Paul Casey both a shot further back.
As it stands, the cut is predicted to fall at one-over.