Danny Willett admitted it was “pretty cool” to be leading The Open Championship after carding a round of 69 to establish a two-shot lead midway through the weather-affected second round at St Andrews.
Willett, who got his second big career victory at last year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City with a superlative weekend and rounds of 65 and 66 at Gary Player Country Club, had to sit out a lengthy rain delay at the Old Course.
He carded an opening 66 to lie one behind overnight leader Dustin Johnson and then took full advantage of the relatively benign conditions after the restart with five birdies and two bogeys, both of which came on the tricky back nine.
“I went back and lay on the bed for an hour,” said Willett of his approach to the frustrations of the delay. “We were here at 5:00 this morning doing exercise in the room, and I mean, it was pouring down. We thought it might have been called off but it probably won’t do at an Open – I’ve seen them play in worse weather. But it kept getting progressively worse. All you can do, it’s one of them sitting and waiting games, isn’t it. Luckily enough we’re at a hotel that’s only just over the road so we can go back and chill out and then kind of start the routine again.”
The routine worked a treat, and the man who put his name on a South African trophy which has many major championship winners on it got some early birdies under the belt before dealing with the tough back nine.
“It was a tricky back nine,” said Willett. “At 15 I got a bit of a flier and went long and at 17 just got on it a little bit instead of holding it up the right. From 50-70 feet they are not gimme two-putts.
“It was nice to birdie the last, we hit some good golf shots today and it’s a good score.
“You throw wind and rain in there and it becomes a bit of a lottery. If it’s just wind it’s playable. That strength wind out there it’s playable – you’ve got to hit good shots and you can make birdies.
“Hopefully it’s the same strength tomorrow and I think we’re in for a great weekend.
“You can’t put it out your mind – leading The Open – it’s pretty cool isn’t it?”
With reporting by The European Tour