Miguel Angel Jimenez has no complaints as he breezes into lead
Wily Spaniard now has the chance to become the oldest Major champion
Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the 16th hole during the second round of the British Open Muirfield. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters
If anyone were entitled to whinge or moan about the difficulty of a golf course, you’d imagine it to be a man soon poised to play on the Champions Tour and not long recovered from a broken leg and using a strap to offset tennis elbow. But not if that someone happened to be Miguel Angel Jimenez, the 49-year-old pony-tailed, cigar-chomping Spaniard, who defied whatever ailments have beset him to breeze into the midway lead of this 142nd edition of the British Open here at the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.
On another beautifully sunny day by the Firth of Forth, the Muirfield links – for a second successive round – provided a hard examination in many ways.
The course has been baked by weeks of near-incessant sunshine and yesterday players had to delicately craft shots off hard and unforgiving terrain; with the result that shots into unreceptive greens, especially the 15th, struggled to come to rest on the putting surface.
The frustrations of many players were clear. And, yet, such problems are what make links golf so unique. Patience, in this instance, was indeed a virtue. Nobody demonstrated such a noble trait as much as Jimenez, who fired a second round 71 for 139, three-under par, to take a one-stroke lead in to the weekend over a chasing posse of four players.
Not that Jimenez would be advised to look over his shoulder too closely: the quartet in pursuit comprises notables who have won all over the globe, including 14-time Major champion Tiger Woods.
Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, England’s Lee Westwood – who has only recently started to work with Woods’s coach Seán Foley – and American Dustin Johnson completed the group.
Failed to survive
As ever, there were other notables who failed to make the cut. Justin Rose, another Foley disciple and winner of a breakthrough Major in last month’s US Open at Merion, failed to survive. So too Jim Furyk, and Luke Donald. And Rickie Fowler.
And, most notable of all, world number two Rory McIlroy, who simply couldn’t overturn the nightmarish opening round 79: yesterday, he added a 75 for 154, 12-over par, and now has more spare time than he’d like on his hands.
“I guess I have a clearer picture of what I need to work on and what I need to do to put things right. Sometimes this game can feel further away than it actually is,” said McIlroy, seeking to take positives in the fact he covered his last 11 holes under-par.