A wicked old day on the east coast of Scotland brought with it bruised egos and some home truths as the second round of the Alfred Dunhill Links turned into a battle for survival, with England’s Richard Mansell defying the conditions to post a 68 for a midway total of 10-under-par 134 to claim the outright lead in his quest for a breakthrough win on the DP World Tour.
With a shotgun start implemented on all three links — the Old Course at St Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie — in a successful manoeuvre to get play completed before the worse of the weather hit, just nine players out of 167 professionals managed to sign for sub-par rounds: one of them was Pádraig Harrington, who, at 51, showed all of his battled-hardened self and great fortitude to move into the top-10 on a rare mission away from the Champions Tour.
Harrington signed for a fine 71 — four birdies, three bogeys — at Kingsbarns for a 36-hole total of 140 and, indeed, proved to be the leading Irish player of the quartet in the field.
World number two Rory McIlroy struggled to a 75 at Kingsbarns for 143 in tied-41st; Shane Lowry had two triple bogeys in a round of 79, also at Kingsbarns, for 149 in tied-114th, while Jonny Caldwell had an 81 on the Old Course to also lie on 149.
McIlroy included a triple-bogey seven on the 14th in his round after losing a ball in gorse bushes off the tee on the risk-reward drivable Par 4, while Lowry had two triples — on the 12th and 15th — inflicted on him as he fell 36 places down the leaderboard and faces a big challenge to survive the 54-hole cut.
“I’ve aged 10 years,” quipped McIlroy after enduring the tough weather conditions, adding: “It was brutal out there today, up there with some of the toughest conditions I’ve ever played in.”
Mansell, who has enjoyed a splendid season on the main tour despite starting with a low category card, with five top-10s so far, produced the low round of the day with his 68 — five birdies and a lone bogey — on the Old Course moving the 27-year-old to the top of the leaderboard.
Starting on the sixth, Mansell made two early birdies before reaching the traditional turn, which was followed by two further gains in his next three holes to move to four under through seven holes. His only dropped shot of the day arrived at the 16th, before finishing with a final birdie at the par 5 fifth to finish two strokes clear of Sweden’s Alex Noren.
“It was just about holding on to the golf club and trying to warm up your hands when you could. It was just keep it out of trouble, try to keep it out of the gorse bushes and get up-and-down ... once you lose your grip, you had to hang on for dear life. I don’t think I have ever been as cold on a golf course, it was a day to have a good mentality and keep going,” said Mansell.
Noren, too, described how difficult the task proved to be: “You’ve just got to trust that you can actually play golf because you can’t feel your hands. You don’t try to be a hero!”
In the Hopps Open de Provence on the Challenge Tour, New Zealand’s Daniel Hillier and England’s Bailey Gill claimed the midway lead on eight-under-par 136 where three Irish players — Ruaidhri McGee (68 for 140), Tom McKibbin (72 for 145) and Conor Purcell (72 for 146) — survived the cut.