British Open: Darren Clarke, Lucas Glover share lead after two rounds

McIlroy’s 1-under 69 keeps him in hunt for another major title

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“They told me no one has won the Open championship with a beard since the 1890s,” he said.

Also in contention from the other side of the Atlantic: Chad Campbell, who shot 68 and was one shot back at 3-under 137; Dustin Johnson (68) and old-timers Love (68) and Lehman (67), all at 138; and, yes, even Mickelson, who came to England trying to forget his Open record.

Lefty has only one top-10 finish in 17 previous appearances. Despite missing several short putts over the first two days, a 69 made him a factor at 139.

“It’s fun to be in contention heading to the weekend of the British Open,” he said.

McIlroy won’t be romping to an eight-stroke victory like he did at Congressional, but he wasn’t complaining about the way he played in the afternoon, when the wind picked up and the tricky pin positions made things treacherous.

He saved his best for last, pulling out a par after plugging his approach in a pot bunker in front of the green. McIlroy somehow knocked it on the green and sank a 12-foot putt, pumping his fist as he reached the midway point of the tournament at an even 140.

Garcia, showing again how his game is rounding into shape, matched McIlroy with his second 70 in a row. Both endured the wrong end of the draw, playing in tougher conditions during the morning Thursday and the afternoon Friday.

“Obviously I would have loved to have finished at 2 under,” said Garcia, who bogeyed two of the last four holes. “But under the conditions that we played in, if you had given me even par I would have been happy.”

All four current major champions were headed to the weekend, but not the top-ranked player in the world. England’s Luke Donald closed with four straight bogeys for a 75 to miss the cut of 3-over 143. Lee Westwood, No. 2 in the world, shot 73 and missed the cut by one stroke. Ian Poulter headed home after a 78.

Their dismal finish epitomized the woes for the English, who had hoped to make a big splash at the club that has hosted more Opens outside Scotland than any other.

PGA champion Martin Kaymer (67) was at 137, with Masters winner Charl Schwartzel (68) another stroke back. Defending British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (70) also was safely above the cut line at 142.

The forecast was much worse for the final two rounds, with both wind and rain expected.

Bring it on, said Mickelson.

“One of the things I’m looking forward to is actually the bad weather,” he said. “I hope it comes in.”

Bjorn, playing in the same group as Dyson, was in danger of falling completely out of the mix when he bogeyed three straight holes at the start of his round. But the 40-year-old Dane pulled himself together, playing 1 under the rest of the way for a 72 that left him one stroke off the lead heading to the weekend.

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