It was time to say goodbye for half the field at Royal Portrush on Friday as the Open Championship cranked up a notch.
Many of the morning and early afternoon starters were treated to favourable scoring conditions on the Dunluce Links, which made for a fascinating leaderboard.
But many were disappointed having missed the cut in Northern Ireland – not least of all home favourite Rory McIlroy – and will have to take a watching brief for the final two rounds.
Our Omnisport writers were out and about on Friday, bringing you some of the highlights you may have missed.
ASK A SILLY QUESTION…
Brooks Koepka was speaking to the media about perceived putting woes after his second round.
The four-time major winner spoke of his belief that he would be higher up the leaderboard had he got his flatstick going, which led to this amusing exchange.
“Did you expect to be leading?” “I wanted to, but it’s hard to when you don’t make any putts.” “So you’d rather lead? Some people like to sneak under the radar.” “No, I’d rather be in last place…”
Never change, Brooks.
HOLMES HAS AN ACE UP HIS SLEEVES
J.B. Holmes kept himself firmly in contention for a maiden major title yet spent the majority of his media conference fielding questions about his dog.
Fellow dog-lover Tommy Fleetwood had already spoken of his envy over Holmes’ ability to take his pooch to many PGA Tour events, although the American doesn’t have him in Northern Ireland.
Holmes’ four-legged friend is called Ace and he’s a miniature Goldendoodle who cost $5,000 at a charity auction and is much loved by the entire Holmes family.
The question the 37-year-old had to think hardest about was whether he preferred his dog or his caddie.
“Oh, that’s tough,” he said while pondering his reply. “They’re both my best friend.”
— J.B. Holmes (@JBHolmesgolf) May 4, 2017
CONFLICTING LEVELS OF OPTIMISM FOR RORY
McIlroy had a day to forget on Thursday. In fact he had a day the packed-out course at Royal Portrush wanted to forget.
But his opening-day woes and the drizzly rain did little to dampen the spirits of a partisan crowd when McIlroy played the first hole of his second round, as people jostled for position to catch a glimpse of their hero.
One spectator standing next to a member of the Omnisport team yelled that “61 will do it Rory!” in a true show of encouragement.
Another fan whispered rather more sheepishly: “He needs nothing short of a miracle…”
In fairness, we all know who was realistically speaking the truth…
It was a close-run thing as McIlroy added a sparkling 65 to his opening 79, but there was to be no miracle of Portrush for the Northern Irishman.
‘61 will do it’ yells one fan
‘He needs nothing short of a miracle’ comments another
— Peter Hanson (@PeterHanson89) July 19, 2019
O’DRISCOLL TALKS TACKLING PORTRUSH
Two of Omnisport’s crew took a trip over to the spectators’ village at Royal Portrush to chat with HSBC ambassadors Tim Henman and Brian O’Driscoll.
The competitive nature of both men clearly still burns strong as a spot of crazy golf was in order before it was interview time.
Ireland rugby union great O’Driscoll spoke about playing Portrush a few weeks ago. So, what score did you shoot Brian?
“I actually played well. I had a 74, which is one of my career low scores,” he said. “I started a bit ropey with bogey-double, then I went one under from there so it was definitely one to remember.”
Some people are just good at everything…
Right here’s my #OneHandedChip attempt in @royalportrush a couple of weeks ago with @HSBC_Sport. Who can beat 5 (ahem, other than Rory O’Connor)?! Fancy a shot at the title @NiallOfficial @TomShanklin @BryanHabana pic.twitter.com/RembQQTFbE
— Brian O’Driscoll (@BrianODriscoll) July 7, 2019