Rory McIlroy responds after talking to from JP

Aubrey Yates
July 23, 2017

But it wasn't a very welcome and pleasant one for the early starters at Royal Birkdale this morning. There was a bounce in his step on Friday at the British Open.

1pm update: Jordan Spieth holds a share of the lead as Ian Poulter sets the early clubhouse target at 3-under par. The unpredictability of the tee time draw can often eliminate much of the field; Spieth was one of the players who felt nature's wrath and was affected by adverse weather previous year at Royal Troon. But he hit back with four birdies on the way home, including at 17 and 18. He still shot 65, his best score ever in a major.

Paul Casey has had better birthdays, and on the occasion of his 40th the Englishman, who was tied for fourth at four under overnight, slumped to a 77 and finished the day at three over after waiting nearly four hours to register his first and only birdie, at the par-five 15th.

The Ryder Cup specialist, who has never won a major, endured a frustrating 2016 due to injury problems and had to come through qualifying to earn his place in the tournament. I feel like I've done that the first two days, I'll try and be the best I can be and take it from there.

Anything can happen, as Rory McIlroy can attest. McIlroy was at 4 under, three shots out of the lead.

The four-time major victor arrived at Royal Birkdale after having failed to make the cut in three of his past four competitions, and got off to a miserable start with bogeys at five of the first six holes. He stayed there with three pars that were just as critical.

Seventy-eight players made the cut, which was at 145, but many top players did not, including Ireland's Padraig Harrington, Si-Woo Kim of South Korea, Scotland's Martin Laird and Americans Kevin Chappell, Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink and Justin Thomas (after following up a first-round 67 with an 80 on Friday).

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Koepka, a graduate of Cardinal Newman High School, played once, with his manager, since winning the U.S. Open in mid-June. He took a mighty swing at the ball, and then watched as it barely cleared a bunker on the right and rolled to about 10 feet away. "It looked awfully challenging", Kuchar said.

Spieth turned a bogey or worse into an unlikely par by chipping in from just short of the 10th green. But Johnson has not been the same since he fell down a staircase in Augusta, hurt his back and wasn't able to get himself to the first tee to play the Masters. "It was fun. I love playing in the wind".

"What people enjoy about the British Open", Matt Kuchar explained, "is watching the hard wind, the rain, the guys just trying to survive out there". He was poised to join the leaders when he reached 5 under with a birdie on the 15th, only to drop shots on the next two holes.

The recent victor of the Open championship of the United States ' Brooks Koepka, also in the head on Thursday evening, has limited the damage with a card of 72 (+2), and finds himself in 3rd place, ex-aequo with the Englishman Ian Poulter (-3).

Whether it has been rain, shine or wind, Spieth has been the best player in The Open Championship thus far.

"You know way more about your golf game than you did 20 or 30 years, and everyone has access to that now, " he said.

"I think the sport should be eternally grateful for the transformation he drove in golf", said Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A.

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