Spieth weathers storm, leads Open by 2

Jordan Spieth dodged the raindrops better than most and remained atop the leaderboard in the 146th Open Championship.

Spieth negotiated Royal Birkdale Golf Club in a solid 1-under-par 69 despite the stormy weather and holds a two-stroke lead over Matt Kuchar after two rounds of the third major of the season in Southport, England.

“Looking back, it wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be,” said Spieth, who is seeking his third major title after winning the Masters and U.S. Open in 2015. “We thought we were going to get sideways rain like last year (at Royal Troon).

“We actually had favorable conditions for an hour or two and you just had to be able to capitalize. I was just trying to scrape it up as close to the green as I could and see how many pars could make.

“I made some good shots and was able to take advantage of as many opportunities as I could, so I’m happy with today.”

Spieth, who will turn 24 next Thursday, knocked in a 17-foot eagle putt on the 15th hole en route to a 36-hole score of 6-under 134.

Kuchar, who was tied with Spieth and U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka for the first-round lead at 65, carded a 71 despite bogeys on two of the last three holes.

“This is what we expect when we come over here,” Kuchar, who is seeking his first major title, said of the conditions. “You just have to do the best you can. You go out and take what the golf course gives you. It was certainly hard.

“It is a lot of scrambling, a lot of thinking and a lot of adjusting to the wind. This is straight defense the entire time. You hopefully are swinging aggressively, trying to make good swings. I like my position.”

Koepka, who claimed his first major title last month at Erin Hills, did not make a birdie in his second-round 72 and is three shots back in a tie for third with Ian Poulter of England, who had one birdie and one bogey in a 70.

Richie Ramsey of Scotland also carded a 70 and is another stroke down in solo fifth, while fourth-ranked Rory McIlroy, who was 5-over after six holes in round one, followed a 71 with a 68 and is five behind in a tie for sixth with Gary Woodland (69), Austin Connelley (72) of Canada and Richard Bland (72) of England.

Jamie Lovemark of Rancho Santa Fe and USC shot 69 and is six back in a huge tie for 10th with second-ranked Hideki Matsuyama (72) of Japan, Joost Luiten (72) of the Netherlands, Charley Hoffman (73) of Poway, Rafa Cabrera Bello (73) of Spain, Bubba Watson (72), Kent Bulle (72), ninth-ranked Alex Noren (72) of Sweden, Russell Henley (70) and Chan Kim (68) of South Korea.

Defending champion and eighth-ranked Henrik Stenson of Sweden totaled 73 and is in a tie for 24th that includes Masters champion and fifth-ranked Sergio Garcia (68) of Spain, and 10th-ranked Rickie Fowler (71).

Top-ranked Dustin Johnson posted a 72 and is in a tie for 35th that includes seventh ranked Jon Rahm (74) of Spain and Adam Scott (74) of Australia.

Sixth-ranked Jason Day of Australia struggled to a 76, but made the cut on the number in a tie for 71st that includes Justin Rose of England, who finished at 74.

Padraig Harrington of Northern Ireland, who won the Open in 2008 at Royal Birkdale, came in at 73-73 — 146 and missed the cut by one stroke, while Phil Mickelson wound up at 73-77 — 150 to miss the weekend by five.

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