ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – What a difference a day makes.
What a difference the wind makes.
The average score on Day 1 of the British Open was 71.750. On Day 2, with the wind plundering the Old Course, the average score among those who finished had soared to 75.153.
With a wind delay of 1 hour, five minutes, the entire field was unable to complete the second round.
The back nine was particularly brutal. The average score increased from 36.506 on the first day to 38.389 on the second day.
Double bogeys climbed from 47 on Thursday to 77 and counting on Friday.
Combining the first two rounds, the three most difficult holes were all on the back nine – the par-4 17th, the par-4 13th and the par-3 11th, in that order. The 495-yard 17th, the famous Road Hole, played more than half a stroke over par with an average score of 4.648.
Analyzing the performance of the leaders, it was clear that Louis Oosthuizen, 12-under par with a five-stroke advantage, did everything well. He hit 30 of 32 fairways and 31 of 36 greens. His average driving distance was 324.7 yards. He had 57 putts for 36 holes, with one three-putt.
All the leaders excelled in one respect: They hit greens in regulation. Oosthuizen, Mark Calcavecchia, Paul Casey, Peter Hanson, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Graeme McDowell and Tiger Woods each hit at least 29 greens.
These GIR figures also might help identify a come-from-behind contender for the title. At 6-under par, Lee Westwood is tied for third despite hitting only 25 of 36 greens. Furthermore, he hit just 25 of 32 fairways.
With improved ballstriking, the tough-as-nails Westwood is a candidate for pressuring Oosthuizen.
Statistics for greens hit and fairways hit are higher at St. Andrews than most other courses because of wide fairways and huge greens. The layout features seven double greens, with two separate flagsticks on each.
Paul Casey, tied with Westwood at 6 under, has putted poorly. He totaled 60 putts for two rounds, including two three-putts.
Graeme McDowell, the U.S. Open champion who is 5-under par, hit 30 of 36 greens but stumbled on the putting surfaces with 62 putts.
The contender with the biggest putting headache, though, is Woods, with 66 putts in 36 holes. Woods hit 25 of 32 fairways and 31 of 36 greens, but putting remained his nemesis. He averaged 311.5 yards off the tee.
Driving distances at St. Andrews are supercharged because of firm turf. The only players in the top 10 not averaging 300 yards are Jimenez (294) and Retief Goosen (290.5).
Because players occasionally hit 3-woods instead of drivers, official driving distances are not always a reflection of how well an individual is hitting the ball off the tee.
Phil Mickelson, at even par through 36 holes, encountered the worst of the weather with his starting times. He hit only 18 of 32 fairways and 23 of 36 greens. He had 61 putts with two three-putts. His driving average was just 288.5 yards.
All things considered, the performance was very un-Phil-like and left him 12 strokes off the pace.