Whatever was in the air here yesterday it made for a freaky Friday. One player had an 11. Another broke two clubs on the same hole. It was windier than a seaside links for most of the day, then torrential rain flooded the greens. The only player not to have a bogey on his card was Sandy Lyle, who was not playing, having disqualified himself overnight for inadvertently signing for a par rather than a bogey during the first round.
Mark Foster and Robert-Jan Derksen shared the lead at seven under par. Foster's 66 in the gales of the morning was a scintillating performance, while Dutchman Derksen beat the downpours for a 68. Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter were among those just a stroke behind.
Foster and Westwood, old friends from Worksop, shared a fish supper on Thursday night. "It was more like whale and chips, the fish was so big," said Foster, whose only European Tour win came in South Africa four years ago.
Westwood was also out in the morning when the blustery conditions meant he could show off his new short game. Westwood's technique around the greens has often left something to be desired, but he has been working on it with Mark Roe, the former player turned commentator.
"I always had the imagination but not the technique," Westwood said. "Now I've got a variety of shots I can play and the confidence spreads through your game." He had a 70 and was unfazed by bogeying his last two holes, the eighth, where he was in the water, and the ninth, given that both par-fours were playing a driver and a three-wood into the wind.
Poulter, who had to be persuaded by his manager to play on the eve of the event, is hoping to give himself an early wedding present, and any thoughts of fatigue disappeared with his position on the leaderboard. In keeping with the day his only birdies, at the 16th and 17th holes, came in the middle of the deluge at a time when putts were aquaplaning rather than rolling.
He was not complaining but noted that the players should have been off the course, while when the hooter sounded to halt play the rain stopped on cue.
Rory McIlroy, the 18-year-old playing in his first professional event, made the cut amid the mayhem despite the fact that his last eight holes contained two double bogeys and three bogeys as well as two important birdies, at the 16th and 17th. That should have made him safe but he rushed his drive at the 18th and found the lake to take an ugly six. "I'm happy to make the cut, but the way I finished was not good," he said. Nine years ago another 18-year-old missed the cut in his first event by one stroke and did not find out what it is like to play at the weekend for another 20 tournaments. McIlroy will tee up again this morning.
"No more comparisons with Justin Rose," he said after his round.
The Swede Robert Karlsson drove behind a tree at the third and broke a club in trying to extract his ball. But the ball was never seen again and he had to replay the shot, breaking another club. He escaped with an eight, sent the clubs back to the clubhouse to be repaired, got them back three holes later and still made the cut.
Alastair Forsyth suffered his 11 at the redesigned sixth hole. The lake always challenged the drive and the Scot put one ball off the tee. But the fairway and green now curved all the around the water and, during the worst of the rain, pulled three more balls into the drink.
After all the upgrades in the course over the years, planning permission has been put in for a £250m project to rebuild the hotel and clubhouse.Reuse content