Jordan Spieth took an outright lead on a wind and rain-swept second day of action at The Open Championship ahead of a hugely competitive chasing pack that also includes a resurgent Ian Poulter and a determined Rory McIlroy.
Among those missing the weekend was previous year s runner-up Phil Mickelson, but 2015 champion Zach Johnson shot the round of the day with a 66 as he made the cut on one-over.
Four-time Major victor Rory McIlroy recovered from a disastrous front nine, during which he carded five bogeys in the first six holes, to fire four birdies on his return to the clubhouse and finish with a one-over 71.
But the world number four dug deep and steadied the ship before climbing his way up through the field on the back nine with four birdies. I thought a couple would come on the back nine but my patience was rewarded.
"At the British Open, I don't know that the guys that watched this morning get to think 'holy cow, this is going to be great". I didn't let my head drop too much.
"JP [Caddie JP Fitzgerald] gave me a good talking on the second tee box, and sort of reminded me of where I was".
McIlroy, who has missed the cut in three of his last four starts, had to wait until 2:48pm to begin his campaign for a fifth major title and was wary of being caught on the "wrong" side of the draw. Walking up 18, just walking from greens to tees was really pretty special today.
"I feel like the game is starting to get back to what it was" he said. We have had a good run of first time major winners lately but I am taking a strong look at defending champion Henrik Stenson.
"JP, he reminded me who I was, basically". Call this one a hunch because like I said, he is not playing well right now but the talent is there.
"But it did, it helped".
"I made some key up-and-downs on the start of the back nine - they're the putts that haven't quite been going in over the past few weeks and that's all it takes to keep a round going".
"I couldn't ask to be in a better position, having been five over through six yesterday and now be in the clubhouse after two rounds under par".
"I had trials for Southampton as a goalkeeper but when I was about 15 my left ankle snapped in half and that put paid to that".
"It was ideal conditions so we chose to take it by the horns, play a bit more aggressively and it paid off nicely", the world number 277 said.
"Honestly, right now I'm just happy to be inside, first and foremost".