Padraig Harrington slithered to another major disaster as Darren Clarke continued his links love affair at wind lashed St Andrews.
Deserted by his putting touch, triple major winner Harrington missed his third cut from his last six major starts since he clinched the US PGA title two years ago when he added a 77 to his opening 73 to finish on six over par.
The two-over par cut would not be established until Saturday morning, when 30 players returned to the course to finish their second rounds.
They incuded wind specialist Clarke, who brilliantly played 15 holes in two under par and then came back at 6.30am to play his remaining three holes in level par, posting a second successive 70 and go into today’s third round with his title hopes intact on four under par.
The Ulsterman bogeyed the 17th after a second successive visit to the Road Hole bunker but birdied the last and confessed that he’s delighted with his position at halfway.
Clarke said: “I got myself into a good position last night in really tough conditions yesterday. I played nicely this morning. Nice par on 16, then I hit a great tee shot on 17 and just pulled my second shot into the bunker for the second day running, which was frustrating.
“But then I made a nice three at the last. Two under par for that round is pretty good. The conditions yesterday were nothing that I’m not used to. At Royal Portrush at home this is like a normal day. The wind was blowing pretty hard and you were having to aim the ball 40 yards right or left of the pin. It’s pretty tough.
“All in all it’s a great position I’m in. Louis is obviously playing well, but now I’ve just got to keep chasing him.”
Winds gusting over 40mph forced officials to suspend play for over an hour in the early afternoon on Friday and the biggest victim was first round leader Rory McIlroy who suffered the biggest disappointment of his short career when he followed his record 63 with a nightmare 80 to crash 11 shots behind leader Louis Oosthuizen.
Harrington comfortably missed the cut but it was always going to be a tough day for the two-time Open champion, who never recovered from an opening 73 left him tied for a lowly 97th on one over par.
No fewer that 73 players began the day in red figures before gale force afternoon winds caused major carnage.
The Dubliner teed off at 2.31 pm with Tom Watson and Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa but only managed to get his tee shot away before winds gusting at more than 40mph forced officials to suspend play for an hour.
Harrington spent the delay practising his putting but it didn’t appear to help him as he immediately dropped three shots in his first two holes.
At the 376-yard first, he finished in deep rough behind the green but after playing a superb recovery to eight feet he didn’t even frighten the hole with his par effort.
He then racked up a double bogey six at the gorse-lined second, racking up the first of three three-putts to balloon to four over par for the championship.
Another shot went at the 371 yard seventh as he turned in 40 blows and while he parred the first four holes on the back nine, it was birdies he needed.
“I just putted badly for two days and hit some poor wedge shots, hit some poor chip shots” Harrington said. “All the scoring (areas). Going out on a tough day today, that was the weakest part of my game. I had three three-putts today. I wasn’t feeling very comfortable on the greens with my routine in the wind and a little bit of that came from yesterday. All the damage was done yesterday.
“Was it as simple as a bad start? Yes, it was actually. It is actually as simple as that. I hit the ball well. Very happy with that end of the game. When you are not shooting under par the first day in those perfect conditions, you are struggling coming out there on a tough day. And again, I started poorly and the last thing you can do on a windy day…. if you start missing putts on a windy day, it’s a struggle and that’s how I started out today. I never felt comfortable on the greens at all.”
Clarke only qualified for the Open last weekend when he finished second to Edoardo Molinari in the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond.
A first round 70 left him tied for 46th and seven shots behind stablemate McIlroy.
But he battled his way through the worst of the afternoon wind to play his first 12 holes in level par to move well up the pecking order.
After a birdie at the third, he three putted the par-five fifth for a bogey six but then holed an unlikely 40 footer from off the green on the seventh to get to three under.
He leaked a shot at the 12th but was still an impressive level par for the day and two under for the championship before he made back to back birdies at the 13th and 14th.
The first of them was one of the highlights of day two - a 40 yard monster that was memorable for the fact that his visor blew off in the west wind as he saluted the crowd. A 10 footer fell at the next and after solid par at the 15th, the Dungannon man retired for the evening a happy man before finishing the job early on Saturday morning.