Dustin Johnson holds a one-shot lead over Jordan Spieth at the halfway mark of the Northern Trust.

Johnson backed up his opening-round 63 with a four-under 67 on Friday to move into 12 under and the solo lead at the Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey.

The world number two birdied the par-four 15th hole to take a share of the lead and then moved one stroke ahead of Spieth with another birdie on the final hole.

It looked as if Spieth would carry his lead into the weekend of the first FedEx Cup play-offs event until Johnson stormed up the standings.

Spieth, winless since 2017, posted the equal lowest round of the day with a seven-under 64.

There is a four-way tie for third place at 10 under between Patrick Reed, Jon Rahm, Troy Merritt and Abraham Ancer.

The second round featured plenty of drama.

It started early with the news that Tiger Woods was not going to play into the weekend, withdrawing before Friday's round with an oblique strain.

The drama continued with a weather delay that lasted just over 30 minutes, and a penalty. Rory McIlroy was assessed a two-stroke penalty just as he was chipping away at the leaderboard. 

McIlroy hit his tee shot on the par-three 14th hole into the greenside bunker. Before he took his approach shot, he removed what he thought was a stone or other object but it turned out to be sand. After alerting the rules official, he was given the penalty.

However, the drama took another turn when the penalty was ultimately rescinded after play finished.

A birdie on 15 helped McIlroy recover from the blunder and sit in a tie for seventh place at nine under with Andrew Putnam, Justin Rose, Louis Oosthuizen and Wyndham Clark.

Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele and Sergio Garcia were among the players to miss the cut.

An Byeong-hun holds a one-stroke lead heading into Sunday's final round of the Wyndham Championship.

South Korea's An carded a four-under-par 66 to preserve his position atop the leaderboard following Saturday's third round in Greensboro, North Carolina.

An, who had shared or held the solo lead since Thursday, is searching for his first PGA Tour win and he was able to keep his bogey-free streak alive through 54 holes at the Sedgefield Country Club.

His round was highlighted by an impressive 51-plus foot putt, the longest of the PGA season, as he improved to 17 under for the tournament.

American Webb Simpson (65) at one point tied An for the lead after a near-perfect round.

Simpson used a spotless front nine to put pressure on An, including a birdie on the par-fourth 9th hole. He ultimately fell into second place, a stroke off the pace after a bogey on the par-four 14th hole.

Fellow American Brice Garnett is level alongside Simpson following his four-under-par 66, while Ryan Armour (65) is a shot further back.

Viktor Hovland (64), J.T. Poston (66) and Paul Casey (66) are tied for third position at 14 under heading into the deciding round.

Meanwhile, Jordan Spieth's woes continued after he capitulated following a seven-over-par 77 on Saturday.

Spieth started the day just four shots off the lead but three double bogeys and a bogey without a birdie saw the former world number one miss the 54-hole cut – a rule employed when too many players make the 36-hole cut.

"Yeah, it was just a bad day," Spieth, who has not won a tournament since 2017, said. "Overall, just didn't play well."

An Byeong-hun edged into a one-stroke lead at the Wyndham Championship, while Jordan Spieth remained in contention at the halfway mark.

An, 27, sits alone atop the leaderboard at 13 under entering the weekend at the Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The South Korean shot a blemish-free five-under 65 on Friday with consecutive birdies on his front nine, the 14th and 15th holes, and again after he made the turn from the third through the fifth.

His steady play kept him ahead after entering the day sharing the 18-hole lead, and all it took was some impressive putting to separate himself from the field. An sunk a 30-foot putt at the fourth hole and sits just one stroke ahead of Brice Garnett.

Garnett matched his opening round of six-under 64 to move into second at 12 under.

He also finished the day with a clean scorecard and was mere inches away from yet another tie for first.

Spieth backed up his opening-round 64 with a three-under 67 to get to nine under, four shots adrift of the lead.

Im Sung-jae – the other 18-hole leader – Patton Kizzire, Adam Svensson, Josh Teater, Webb Simpson and Mackenzie Hughes are at 11 under.

Paul Casey highlights the three-way tie for ninth at 10 under, while defending champion Brandt Snedeker fell back to a tie for 38th after an even-par 70.

Hideki Matsuyama, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Streelman and Cameron Smith missed the cut, set at four under.

An Byeong-hun and Im Sung-jae fired eight-under 62s to lead the Wyndham Championship as Jordan Spieth also made a fine start on Thursday.

An and Im shot bogey-free opening rounds at the Sedgefield Country Club to share a one-stroke lead in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The South Korean pair are both looking for their first wins on the PGA Tour, but top what is a congested leaderboard.

Spieth is part of a tie for seventh at six under after shooting a mixed 64 that included an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.

The 2013 runner-up, looking for his first win since 2017, is joined by Josh Teater, Webb Simpson, defending champion Brandt Snedeker, Brice Garnett, Seamus Power, Ryan Armour, Ted Potter Jr and Kiradech Aphibarnrat at six under.

Mackenzie Hughes, Rory Sabbatini, Patrick Rodgers and Johnson Wagner are ahead of that group after carding 63s.

Paul Casey made a decent start with a five-under 65, while Hideki Matsuyama opened with a 67.

Brooks Koepka saw off Rory McIlroy to claim his maiden World Golf Championship at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

World number one Koepka celebrated a three-stroke victory after carding a five-under-par 65 in Memphis on Sunday.

Koepka – a four-time major champion – enjoyed a flawless final round with five birdies, including three in a four-hole stretch at TPC Southwind.

The American star and FedEx Cup leader finished 16 under overall for his third win of the season and seventh of his career, ahead of countryman Webb Simpson (64).

Simpson's round was highlighted with an eagle on the par-five third hole but a bogey just before making the turn sullied his scorecard.

Australian Marc Leishman, who also climbed up the leaderboard, rounded out the top three at 12 under after his final-round 67.

Overnight leader and former world number one McIlroy ended the tournament five shots off the pace following his one-over-par 71.

McIlroy – who won the tournament in 2014 – was the man to beat following the third round after he posted an eight-under-par 62 for a one-shot lead ahead of Koepka.

But the 54-hole leader was unable to maintain his charge after missing the cut at The Open last week – McIlroy falling victim to two bogeys on his back nine as he finished alongside Tommy Fleetwood (66) and Matthew Fitzpatrick (69).

Spanish star Jon Rahm (69) was a stroke further back at 10 under, ahead of Ian Poulter (69).

Defending champion Justin Thomas had to settle for a share of 12th position at six under following his final-round 71.

Thomas finished alongside Jordan Spieth (68), Alex Noren (73), Patrick Reed (68), Rafa Cabrera Bello (66), Aaron Rai (67), Patrick Cantlay (68) and Cameron Smith (68).

Meanwhile, Dustin Johnson – the 2016 champion – ended the event a stroke further back after shooting a two-under-par 68.

Jon Rahm used a brilliant opening round to grab a three-stroke lead at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational on Thursday.

Rahm, who is fresh off a tied for 11th finish at The Open, shot an eight-under 62 with five of his eight birdies coming on his back nine at TPC Southwind.

What was more impressive was his putting as Rahm missed just one putt inside 25 feet during the first round in Memphis, Tennessee. He was a perfect five for five from 15-20 feet.

The Spaniard, still looking for his first WGC win, tied the low round of his PGA Tour career.

But, he has a star-studded field behind him.

There is a five-way tie for second place at five under, with Hideki Matsuyama and Bubba Watson joined by Patrick Cantlay, Cameron Smith and Shugo Imahira.

Watson's round featured a birdie on his final hole after bogeys on the par-four 10th and 13th holes.

Behind them is a sizable group of Ian Poulter, Thorbjorn Olesen and Tyrrell Hatton, among others, a shot further back.

Justin Rose, Bryson DeChambeau and Billy Horschel are in a five-way tie for 13th at three under and in good position to move up the leaderboard on Friday.

Jordan Spieth nearly joined the top of the leaderboard after five birdies and just one bogey through 11 holes.

But the American then carded two triple bogeys, making seven at the 12th and 15th holes before finishing with an even-par 70.

World number one Brooks Koepka made a fine start with a 68, while Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson opened with 69s.

Brooks Koepka's Open challenge faded at Royal Portrush but the American still became just the fifth man to secure a top-five finish at every major in a single season.

After finishing tied for second at the Masters, winning the US PGA Championship and claiming second outright at the U.S. Open, Koepka had to settle for a share of fourth on six under par in Northern Ireland, nine shots adrift of runaway winner Shane Lowry.

A closing 74 spoiled his weekend, after rounds of 68, 69 and 67 put the 29-year-old in the hunt for the Claret Jug.

Before Koepka's feat, Jordan Spieth was the last man to achieve the full house of top-five finishes when he won the Masters and U.S. Open in 2015 as well as enjoying strong runs at the Open and US PGA.

Rickie Fowler, still yet to win a major, was a model of consistency in 2014, with two second places, a third and a fifth.

Tiger Woods had three major wins in his 2000 season, plus a fifth place at the Masters, and in 2005 he triumphed at the Masters and Open Championship, while coming second at the U.S. Open and tying for fourth at the US PGA.

Jack Nicklaus won the US PGA in 1971 and 1973, and in both seasons also bagged top-five finishes at the other majors.

Despite joining such an elite club, Koepka was not impressed with his efforts at Portrush.

"I don't see much positive out of it," he said after his final round. "If you don't play good you're not going to win. So it's very simple. It's disappointing, yes. I didn't play the way I wanted to. And I've got to live with that."

Jordan Spieth says the conditions he played in growing up are why he enjoys playing links golf so much as he left himself well in contention after his second round at the Open Championship.

The 2017 champion went around Royal Portrush in 67 on Friday and is five under for the tournament, which was four back of the leading score.

Spieth also tied fourth in 2015 and was co-leading heading into the final round at Carnoustie a year ago before falling away and finishing in a tie for ninth. 

"It's pretty much the style of golf," Spieth replied when asked about his performances in The Open. 

"I always get pumped up for major championships, clearly I try to peak for majors and then this style of golf I've always found to fit my game pretty well.

"I just grew up in the wind, having to play a lot of different shots and using imagination around the greens on the course I grew up at. 

"So, it's different but it feeds well into this style of golf and then we don't see it very often. I wish we were able to see it more. I love links golf."

Spieth's American compatriot Brooks Koepka – who has gone 2-1-2 in the majors in 2019 – also made it back to the clubhouse at five under.

The four-time major winner feels he would be higher on the leaderboard had he been hotter with the putter over the opening two days.

"I didn't make a putt all week. I just need to figure that out. If I can make some putts I could very easily be 10 under and really maybe more," he said.

"I haven't made anything. On the front nine I didn't hit it as good as I'd like. I didn't pitch it as good. It's tough to really score if you're going to do that.

"It's frustrating. You've just got to stay patient and just wait your turn, just like I did on 12 and 13 [where he made back-to-back birdies]. I haven't really hit anything too close yet, either.

"I feel like some of my good shots have just been a little too far away from the hole. So, if I can just clean it up just the slightest little bit I could be off and running."

Tommy Fleetwood posted the clubhouse target in round two of the Open Championship, as Brooks Koepka, Cameron Smith and Jordan Spieth also applied the pressure to overnight leader J.B. Holmes.

Englishman Fleetwood, donning a snazzy black and white patterned polo, signed for a fine 67 at Royal Portrush, where lower winds and clear skies were making for favourable morning scoring, and he was leader in the clubhouse at seven under.

Holmes, the overnight leader, was two shots clear of that score with five to play having made back-to-back birdies at 12 and 13. The American played the opening three holes at three under before dropping a shot at the ninth.

Australian Cameron Smith was enjoying a stellar round. Six birdies on his card meant he was six under with three holes remaining.

Four-time major winner Koepka made it back to the clubhouse at five under, the same score Spieth was on with two holes still to play.

Further down the leaderboard, Tiger Woods' chances of reaching the weekend were looking increasingly bleak. The Masters champion was two under for the round through 10, but still five over for the tournament.

Jordan Spieth hit a hot streak on the front nine to move to within one shot of the Open Championship lead.

The 2017 Champion Golfer of the Year, who signed for a modest 70 in Thursday's opening round, found his best form early on Friday to go six under for the tournament.

An eagle three at the seventh courtesy of a mammoth putt from off the green was the highlight of the American's scorecard as he played the first eight holes in 27.

Compatriot J.B. Holmes was the man to catch at the summit on seven under, with Englishman Tyrell Hatton at five under and four-time major winner Brooks Koepka headlining a huge chasing pack on three under.

Erik van Rooyen was another man to take advantage of the favourable conditions, climbing into contention on four under for the tournament alongside Tommy Fleetwood.

It was another glorious day at Royal Portush as preparations for the Open Championship continued on Tuesday.

Players aplenty faced the media - including a certain Tiger Woods - and there were a host of big names out on the course.

And they weren't the only ones strolling the stunning links track, with Omnisport's reporters also on the prowl.

Here's a sample of what they happened upon during their travels inside the media tent and beyond...

 

NO PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT?

Brooks Koepka's record is a peculiar thing.

The world number one has won four of the past 10 majors and placed second at the Masters and U.S. Open either side of defending the US PGA Championship in the first three major tournaments of 2019.

But he is only a twice a winner on the regular PGA Tour. So what's the difference?

"I just practice before the majors. Regular tournaments I don't practice. If you've seen me on TV, that's when I play golf," he said to laughter from the press pack.

Top marks for honesty there, Brooks.

PINT OF GUINNESS, TIGER?

Tiger Woods was in a jovial mood during his media conference, which as ever was the best attended of them all.

When asked if he'd had chance to have a sip of Guinness, the three-time Open winner offered this assessment of one of the more popular Irish delicacies.

"This week? No, not this week. In the past...hmm," he joked.

 

LOST IN THE ROUGH

One of the joys of covering an Open Championship is heading out on the course to take in the sights and catch a bit of golf.

On practice days, with reduced crowds, it's an opportunity to follow some of the big names without having to contend with the masses that follow the action during the tournament.

But the plans of one Omnisport reporter, who set out to watch Brooks Koepka, were thwarted by some poor navigation and, in fairness, a little bit of bad luck.

If you take a wrong turn on this course and get stuck the wrong side of one of the boundary ropes that funnel spectators down certain pathways, you can end up a long way from where you want to be.

And so it proved for this lost reporter, who never did track down Koepka and was left instead to watch Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who has won four fewer majors than the American.

It's been 68 years since Royal Portrush last hosted The Open Championship and excitement is building ahead of the start of the 148th edition of the tournament.

Sunday was the first official practice day and several players took to the course a day later to get familiar with a venue most in the field will never have played.

And there was plenty going on around the course as the build-up kicks into gear.

Below, Omnisport's team on the ground round up some of the best goings on in Northern Ireland.

 

TIGER'S TEE TROUBLES

Nothing can make your own golf abilities feel quite so inadequate as watching the pros tee it up at The Open.

But, rest assured, even the greatest of greats can encounter a few woes out on the course, even 15-time major winners like Tiger Woods!

While preparing to hit off at the 11th, Woods needed a few attempts to get his ball to stay on the tee, much to the amusement of the watching patrons and the party involved with his playing group that included Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler.

"God damn it!" Tiger exclaimed. "My short little tees just don't work."


WATER GOOD IDEA BY THE OPEN

We all want to do our bit to help protect the environment, right?

Well the good folks here at The Open do as well and this year the tournament has removed all single-use plastic bottles.

In their place, players (and indeed members of the media) have been provided with special edition refillable bottles, with water stations placed all around the course.

Good on you, folks.

GOODBYE, AT LEAST FOR NOW, MY FRIEND

None of us here at Omnisport have ever triumphed in a major golf tournament, nor do we expect any of us ever will…

But it's easy to imagine that the toughest part of winning a Claret Jug is handing it back a year later.

That's exactly what defending champion Francesco Molinari had to do on Monday and the Italian had to ensure the famous trophy was kept in some safe places…

"I was very, very careful with it, especially the first few weeks," he said.

"We've had a couple of drinks out of it. Nothing out of the ordinary. I've got small kids at home so I had to keep it out of reach most of the time to avoid disaster!"

 

CLARET CHUG?

Jordan Spieth is a man who knows how to win a Claret Jug, having triumphed in a day of high drama at Royal Birkdale a couple of years back.

And to start his latest tilt for a second Open Championship, Spieth partook in an American pastime of chugging down a can…

Although we're not entirely sure what was in inside.

While Royal Portrush will be uncharted territory for the majority of the field at the 148th Open Championship, there is a strong sense of familiarity for Rory McIlroy.

The four-time major champion set a course-record 61 at one of the toughest links venues – which has not held The Open since 1951 – as a 16-year-old in 2005.

A lot has changed in the 14 years since but McIlroy's knowledge of Portrush, coupled with the fervent backing of a partisan home crowd in Northern Ireland, should aid his cause.

But there is a star-studded cast – led by world number one and four-time major victor Brooks Koepka – who will all be desperate to deny McIlroy a dream home coming.

Here, three Omnisport writers pick out their players to watch in the battle for the Claret Jug.

 

PETER HANSON

Favourite: Brooks Koepka

Koepka's phenomenal record in major tournaments includes a couple of top-10 placings at The Open. A year ago, Koepka was a distant 39th at Carnoustie, but that was sandwiched by triumphs at the U.S. Open and US PGA Championship. He secured another PGA title in May, and only a wonderful four days from Gary Woodland denied him a third consecutive U.S. success. Koepka often feels he does not receive the acclaim he deserves but the fact the attention will be focused on McIlroy should play into his hands at Portrush.

Likely challengers: Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele and Tommy Fleetwood

Rahm's three attempts to win The Open have hardly been a success story – a tie for 44th two years ago his best result. But the passionate Spaniard has two top-10 major finishes in 2019 and won the Irish Open this month, so will be feeling confident at Portrush. For a while now it has appeared a matter of when not if Schauffele becomes a major champion. Respective finishes of second and third at the Masters and U.S. Open further enhanced his major pedigree and he proved his ability to contend on tricky Open courses when ending as runner-up at Carnoustie a year ago. Fleetwood's form in recent months has been patchy, but the amiable Englishman has the sort of clutch-scoring ability that should suit Portrush.

Outside bet: Graeme McDowell

The halcyon days of winning the U.S. Open in 2010 may seem like a distant memory for the former world number four, who last year was ranked as low as 239. But 'G Mac' has shown signs of improvements this year, recording top-10 finishes at the Texas Open and Canadian Open, while he flirted with contention at last month's U.S. Open before finishing 16th. And do not discount the power of local knowledge. While the majority of the focus will undoubtedly fall McIlroy's way, Portrush native McDowell will be desperate to impress in front of home support.

RUSSELL GREAVES

My favourite: Francesco Molinari

When Molinari lifted the Claret Jug in 2018, he did so to little fanfare. On that Sunday at Carnoustie, his name was not the most illustrious of the contenders. Rory McIlroy was up there, as was Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and, of course, Tiger Woods. What separated this quiet, unassuming Italian from that star-studded field was his immense calmness under pressure. He went bogey-free in a two-under par 69 in tricky conditions that will likely be replicated at Portrush. When the going gets tough, this guy will get going.

Likely challengers: Koepka, Spieth and Fleetwood

Because since when does Koepka not challenge at a major? It is what he does. Time and time again. How Spieth would yearn for that kind of consistency now, but he did make a decent fist of retaining his title last year and it can never be declared a surprise to see him in the mix. Fleetwood was the focus of much of the pre-tournament attention when Spieth triumphed, with Royal Birkdale his home course. He may not have the same intimate knowledge of this track, but how poetic it would be to see the Claret Jug passed from one half of the Ryder Cup 'Moliwood' partnership to the other.

Outside bet: Matt Kuchar

Kuchar came mighty close to glory two years ago, but Spieth's stunning revival from his 13th-hole woes kept his compatriot at arm's length. Back then, Spieth said Kuchar would win a major one day. This could be his year.

JON FISHER

My favourite: Fleetwood

Fleetwood is without a win in 2019 but has recorded four top-10 finishes. He is likely to enjoy the conditions at Portrush. The links course on the upper tip of Northern Ireland is defended primarily by the wind which could play into the hands of a man brought up on the blowy north west coast of England. Fleetwood is overdue a major breakthrough and will enjoy considerable support.

Likely challengers: McIlroy, Koepka and Spieth

No real surprises here. McIlroy holds the course record at Portrush. Expectation could be an issue in his home country but he has the tools to dominate. Spieth won the Open in 2017 and was tied for the 54-hole lead 12 months ago before falling away. He hasn't won since his Birkdale triumph but seems to thrive in UK conditions. And Koepka because, well, it's Koepka.

Outside bet: Adam Scott

Scott, like Spieth, is very much at home at the Open. Four consecutive top-10 finishes from 2012-2015 - he should have claimed the Claret Jug in 2012 but bogeyed the last four holes to finish second to Ernie Els by a shot - show a pedigree on this type of layout. The swing has never been a problem and his putting is, very belatedly, not proving a hindrance.

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