Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood moved steadily into the picture as the rain fell at Carnoustie during the second round of The Open Championship.
Zach Johnson, who lifted the Claret Jug in 2015, leads at -6 after a 67.
McIlroy started with six straight pars before his first putt of the day dropped at the 7th.
That birdie was backed up with another at the 10th, this time from 15 feet, as the Northern Irishman starting to find his best form.
Birdies at 13th and 14th helped limit the damage of bogeys at 12th and 15th before seeing his putt to join the leaders at -5 slip agonizingly past on the last. Still, it’s fine progress for the Northern Irishman as he looks to add his fifth Major to his name after a four-year drought.
‘Under those conditions, I would have taken that score today going out,’ he said.
‘It wasn’t that bad, but it was just damp enough and cold enough that the game plan that I was trying to adapt to be aggressive and hit driver a lot, I just couldn’t do it. All the bunkers were in play.
‘So a lot more irons off tees and a lot more conservative, but ended up being the same score. I’m pretty pleased with that.”
On why some of his best golf has come in wet conditions, McIlroy added: ‘Just better at it. I wouldn’t say I like it. I’d much rather be sitting here not in damp clothes and a T-shirt, but it is what it is.
‘It was nice today. It was rainy, but it wasn’t too bad, and there wasn’t a lot of wind to contend with. So it was fine. I’ve definitely learned to handle it a little better.There’s still a long way to go, depending on what happens tomorrow going into Sunday,” he added.
‘Over 36 holes, a lot of stuff and a lot of things can happen. I’m in a great position going into the third day.
‘I feel like I played in the toughest of the conditions, and definitely our side of the draw, we had to sort of tough it out a little bit. It was a little more difficult. So I’m happy to be in with a shot. Hopefully, I can go out and play well again tomorrow, and then that will be a big chance going into Sunday.’
Part of the group at -5 now includes Fleetwood.
Fleetwood, who owns the course record (63) here, was the first player in the championship to card a bogey-free round capped off by a birdie on the last to set up a late tee time on Saturday.
One player not in the mix is world number one Dustin Johnson, who is heading home after a 72 on Friday. DJ’s opening round 75 left him with plenty to do in round two but four birdies in six holes from the 11th gave him a chance.
The chance was extinguished by a bogey, double bogey – after finding Barry Burn – finish as his tournament tally sits at +6, four over the projected cut line.
Dustin Johnson is the first world number one to miss the cut at The Open since Luke Donald in 2011.