Zach Johnson, Kevin Kisner Co-Lead Open Championship at Halftime

Zach Johnson 2018 British Open, Round 2
Zach Johnson on the 18th green at Carnoustie Golf Club during day two of the 2018 Open Championship in Carnoustie, Scotland. Credit: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Zach Johnson posted a 4-under 67 on Friday, highlighted by another lengthy birdie at Carnoustie’s infamous 18th, to share the halftime lead of the Open Championship at 6-under par, alongside Kevin Kisner.

Johnson, one of the shorter hitters on Tour, has taken advantage of the hardpan fairways at Carnoustie to keep up the long bombers, and it’s working. Through two rounds, Johnson has played the two par 5s (Nos. 6 and 14) to 5-under par and the 500-yard par-4 finale – Carnoustie’s hardest – at 2-under par.

Zach Johnson 2018 Open Championship
Zach Johnson on the 18th green at Carnoustie Golf Club during day two of the 2018 Open Championship in Carnoustie, Scotland. Credit: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

“I think my game lends itself to this championship because my style can play here,” said Johnson, who won at St Andrews in 2015.

“I’m not going to sit here and say, man, I just love playing in the wind and rain because I don’t, but I can do it. Whatever the conditions I’m going to go out and fight.

“But it’s just two days. It’s just I’ve still got a lot of work to do this week and I’m not going to take anything for granted. Based on what I’ve done in the past and what I’ve done the last two days.

After back-to-back birdies on 13 and 14, Kisner was 8-under par, and seemed well-positioned to claim the solo lead at the halfway point, but a double bogey on the 18th dropped the 34-year old back to 6 under.

“It just came out like high flop shot to the right,” said Kisner, when asked to describe his approach from the rough that landed in the burn.

“It was weird. I don’t know if it caught something or what happened. It was wet, green grass instead of the brown grass. So I hadn’t really played from that too much.”

Kisner finished his second day at Carnoustie with five birdies against two bogeys and the aforementioned double.

Kevin Kisner 2018 Open Championship
Kevin Kisner takes a drop on the 18th hole at Carnoustie Golf Club after hitting into the Barry Burn on day two of the 2018 Open Championship in Carnoustie, Scotland. Credit: Warren Little/R&A via Getty Images

One back was Tommy Fleetwood, who bounced back from a first-day 72 to post a flawless low-round 65. The Englishman was joined at 5-under par by a pair of Americans in Pat Perez (68) and Xander Schauffele (66).

Rory McIlroy carded a second-straight 69 and headlines a group of five players at 4-under par. Joining the Northern Irishman at T6 were South Africans Erik van Rooyen (71) and Zander Lombard (71), along with Americans Matt Kuchar (68) and Tony Finau (71).

Defending champion Jordan Spieth salvaged his title defense with an impressive five birdie/one-bogey 67. The 24-year old American heads into the weekend just three off the lead at 3-under par, alongside compatriots Rickie Fowler (69) and Kevin Chappell (69).

Hometown hero Sandy Lyle thrilled the Scottish golf fans by draining a 30-foot birdie putt in what was likely his final stroke in an Open Championship. The 60-year old Scot, who won the Claret Jug in 1985, posted rounds of 75-76 to finish at 9-over par.

While Lyle exits, another 60-year old will be hanging around for the weekend, as Bernhard Langer posted a second-day 71 to make the cut at 2-over par. Two players who will not be teeing it up this weekend were Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, the world Nos. 1 and 2, respectively – both missed the cut.


OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP SCORING


ROUND-TWO TOP 10

1. Zach Johnson -6 (69-67)
1. Kevin Kisner -6 (66-70)
3. Tommy Fleetwood -5 (72-65)
3. Pat Perez -5 (69-68)
3. Xander Schauffele -5 (71-66)
6. Rory McIlroy -4 (69-69)
6. Matt Kuchar -4 (70-68)
6. Erik van Rooyen -4 (67-71)
6. Tony Finau -4 (67-71)
6. Zander Lombard -4 (67-71)

ROUND-TWO NOTABLES

11. Jordan Spieth -3 (72-67)
11. Rickie Fowler -3 (70-69)
14. Danny Willett -2 (69-71)
19. Ryan Moore -1 (68-73)
19. Charley Hoffman -1 (71-70)
19. Adam Scott -1 (71-70)
19. Brooks Koepka -1 (72-69)
19. Webb Simpson -1 (70-71)
19. Alex Noren -1 (70-71)
29. Francesco Molinari E (70-72)
29. Jason Day E (71-71)
29. Tiger Woods E (71-71)
29. Phil Mickelson E (73-69)
40. Haotong Li +1 (71-72)
52. Rafa Cabrera-Bello +2 (74-70)
52. Lee Westwood +2 (72-72)
52. Marc Leishman +2 (72-72)
52. Paul Casey +2 (73-71)
52. Bernhard Langer +2 (73-71)
66. Henrik Stenson +3 (70-75)
66. Justin Rose +3 (72-73)
66. Tyrrell Hatton +3 (74-71)
66. Patrick Reed +3 (75-70)
66. Bryson DeChambeau +3 (75-70)

NOTABLES MISSING THE CUT

80. Hideki Matsuyama +4 (75-71)
80. Justin Thomas +4 (69-77)
80. Sergio Garcia +4 (75-71)
93. Jon Rahm +5 (69-78)
104. Bubba Watson +6 (75-73)
104. Dustin Johnson +6 (76-72)
117. Padraig Harrington +8 (76-74)
117. Jimmy Walker +8 (72-78)
144. Ian Poulter +12 (73-81)


OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP VIDEO

ROUND-TWO HIGHLIGHTS


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-sQja5XCro


OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP STAT LEADERS


DRIVING

1. Bryson DeChambeau – 379 yards
2. Lucas Herbert – 375 yards
3. Brendan Steele – 374 yards

FAIRWAYS HIT

1. Chez Reavie – 23/30, 76.7%
2. Paul Casey – 22/30, 73.3%
2. Hideto Tanihara – 22/30, 73.3%
2. Marcus Kinhult – 22/30, 73.3%
2. Tiger Woods – 22/30, 73.3%

GREENS HIT

1. Danny Willett – 30/36, 83.3%
2. Thorbjorn Olesen – 29/36, 80.6%
3. Luke List – 28/36, 77.8%

SCRAMBLING

1. Sandy Lyle – 14
2. Shaun Norris – 13
3. Sung Kang – 12
3. Eddie Pepperell – 12


HOW ZACH JOHNSON SCORED THE CO-LEAD

Johnson has been so-so with his accuracy but around the green he’s stroked just 48 putts while converting on eight of 11 scramble attempts.

Zach Johnson 2018 Open Championship
Zach Johnson and caddie Damon Green celebrate a birdie on the 18th at Carnoustie Golf Club during day two of the 2018 Open Championship in Carnoustie, Scotland. Credit: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The key to Johnson’s performance, though, has been his scoring on Carnoustie’s treacherous final four holes where he’s gained an incredible 4.5 strokes on the field. These four closing holes are all surrendering over-par scores while ZJ has navigated his way through them (twice) bogey-free with a pair of final-hole birdies.

TOP-LINE STATS

DRIVING: 282.5 yards
FAIRWAYS: 15/30, 50%
GREENS: 25/36, 69%
PUTTS: 48
SCRAMBLING: 8/11, 73%

SCORING

Par 3: +1 (5 Pars, 1 Bogey)
Par 4: -1 (4 Birdies, 19 Pars, 3 Bogeys)
Par 5: -5 (1 Eagle, 3 Birdies)
Total: -6 (1 Eagle, 7 Birdies, 24 Pars, 4 Bogeys)
Carnasty’s Final Four: -2 (2 Birdies, 6 Pars)


HOW KEVIN KISNER SCORED THE CO-LEAD

Kisner had better accuracy on Friday, but wasn’t as hot with the flatstick, making 29 putts (to his 22 on Thursday). He also wasn’t as efficient scrambling, converting only 33% (2 of 6) missed green into pars. Final hole aside, though, it was another impressive day for the former Georgia Bulldog, and he’s in prime position to make up for the lost opportunity at last year’s PGA.

Kevin Kisner 2018 Open Championship
Kevin Kisner and caddie Duane Bock on the 9th hole at Carnoustie Golf Club during day two of the 2018 Open Championship in Carnoustie, Scotland. Credit: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

TOP-LINE STATS

DRIVING: 301.5 yards
FAIRWAYS: 16/30, 53%
GREENS: 22/36, 61%
PUTTS: 51
SCRAMBLING: 10/14, 71%

SCORING

Par 3: -2 (3 Birdies, 2 Pars, 1 Bogey)
Par 4: E (4 Birdies, 19 Pars, 2 Bogeys, 1 Double Bogey)
Par 5: -4 (1 Eagle, 2 Birdies, 1 Par)
Total: -6 (1 Eagle, 9 Birdies, 23 Pars, 3 Bogeys, 1 Double Bogey)
Carnasty’s Final Four: +1 (1 Birdie, 6 Pars, 1 Double Bogey)


OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP QUOTABLES

“I feel like this championship more than any tournament completely magnifies exactly what I need to work on, my strengths and my weaknesses. Once I learned about it, I just gravitated towards this style of golf. I greatly appreciate how the game was formed over here, how this championship came into fruition back in 1860. Everything about it, I’ve embraced and love.”
– Zach Johnson

“It was weird. I don’t know if it caught something or what happened. It was wet, green grass instead of the brown grass. So I hadn’t really played from that too much.”
– Kevin Kisner

“The wind picked up, and it was raining quite hard, and I hit two perfect 2 irons, and that was the best hole I played all day.”
– Tommy Fleetwood

“I was very light-footed. I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”
– Sandy Lyle


OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP LEADERBOARD

Carnoustie Golf Links | Par 71, 7,402 yards | Carnoustie, Scotland | July 20, 2018

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