Johnson Makes Charge At The Open
The Open has provided great entertaining in the opening two rounds of the tournament, with the leaderboard packed tightly at the top.
Kevin Kisner was unable to pull away from the rest of the field after his brilliant performance on day one, although he remains tied for first place.
Zach Johnson was the man to make a run to join his compatriot to lead the competition going into the weekend, but it remains all to play for at Carnoustie.
Out of the contenders that were well placed on day one, only Jon Rahm dropped out of the race as he endured a horror-show on day two, carding a seven-over round of 78.
However, there are a number of elite players ready to make the push for the final round to win the Claret Jug.
The 2015 champion was on the move on Friday with a fine performance. Johnson won the competition to clinch his second major three years ago at St Andrew’s. He has put himself in positon to secure another victory in Scotland, delivering an exemplary display at Carnoustie. Johnson was in contention from day one, carding a two-under performance. The 42-year-old dropped a shot on the first hole of his round before he was able to bounce back with two-straight birdies at three and four.
A further birdie followed at the par-five sixth, heading into the turn on a 34. Johnson was solid through the first four holes on the back nine before he continued his fine form by notching another birdie on the 14th. The American ended his round in similar fashion to his performance on day one with a birdie on the 18th, finishing with a four-under display of 67. Given his experience at the major competitions he is well worth a shout to go on to claim the Claret Jug at odds of 15/2 with Betway.
The 34-year-old was on course to take the outright lead into the clubhouse for the second day on the bounce. However, an error on the 18th has dropped him back into the pack. Kisner will be hopeful that he does not come to rue that mistake come Sunday, especially given the quality of his display for the 17 holes prior. Kisner began the day with four solid holes before notching his first birdie of the day on the fifth. He found rhythm on the course to notch another on the seventh, although the American dropped a stroke on the par-three eighth.
Holes nine and 10 proved to be just as inconsistent as he gained a shot before bogeying the latter. However, the 13th and the 14th were fruitful as Kisner secured back-to-back birdies and he appeared on course for a two-shot lead to take into the weekend. The 18th proved to be a disaster as he sent his second shot into the burn, resulting in a double-bogey. There’s value for Kisner at odds of 14/1 with 888Sport, but he will have put his mistake behind quickly.
Fleetwood came into the tournament with an excellent record at Carnoustie after breaking the course record with a round of 63 last year. He was underwhelming in his first round, carding a 72 to leave himself off the pace. However, the Englishman roared into life to pull himself into contention for the Claret Jug, but needs to learn his lesson from the US Open to maintain his form. Fleetwood began the day with three straight-pars before notching back-to-back birdies on the fourth and fifth. He remained solid on the front nine before finding another birdie just before the turn to enter the back nine with momentum.
The 27-year-old ensured that he held his composure, notching his fourth birdie of the round on the 11th and capitalised on the pin position at the 14th. Whereas Kisner struggled, the Englishman was able to notch his sixth birdie of the round on the 18th. He posted a score of 65 – two strokes shy of his course record. However, Fleetwood is now just one shot off the pace and is now the leading contender for the crown at odds of 11/2 with BetVictor.
The Northern Irishman has been unusually steady in his opening two rounds of the tournament. McIlroy has carved out a reputation of being boom or bust in majors, but he has developed a calm approach to his game at Carnoustie that sees him just two shots off the lead heading into the weekend. He missed the cut at the US Open and has managed to rediscover his best form on the course. His start to his second round was solid, he parred the opening six holes before making a birdie on the seventh.
The 29-year-old remained calm to post pars on the eighth and ninth to hold pattern to take into the turn. At the 10th he notched his second birdie of the day before a period of inconsistency as he bogeyed the 12th, only to respond with back-to-back birdies. However, a bogey on the 14th could have sent him on a downward spiral. McIlroy remained composed to record a second-straight round of two-under. Should he remain consistent, McIlroy is worth a shout at odds of 7/1 with 888Sport.
Kuchar finished second at The Open last season – his best finish at a major competition. He was only undone by the brilliance of Jordan Spieth in the closing stages of the final round to deny him his first crown. However, the American has worked his way back into contention after underwhelming displays at The Masters and the US Open. Kuchar was solid in his opening round, carding a one-under display of 71. Like McIlroy he had a fairly uneventful start to his second day, parring the opening five holes before finding a birdie at the sixth.
However, he immediately gave the stroke up with a mistake on the seventh. Kuchar was flawless on the back nine, finding his rhythm to move up the leaderboard. He carded back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th before raising the level of his game to notch another on the 18th, leaving him two shots off the pace. He could be worth an outside bet at odds of 20/1 with Betway.
Zach Johnson To Win The Open
Saturday 21st July 2018 – Sunday 22nd July 2018
Tommy Fleetwood To Win The Open
Saturday 21st July 2018 – Sunday 22nd July 2018
- Kevin Kisner
- Matt Kuchar
- Rory McIlroy
- The Open
- Tommy Fleetwood
- Zach Johnson