It’s one down and one to go for Austin Connelly at the midway point of the Open Championship.
“I had two goals starting the week. One was to make the cut and one was to rise up the leaderboard on the weekend, so that’s my goal,” said the former national team player, who needed a playoff in qualifying to get to Royal Birkdale.
The first goal is mission accomplished, with the dual Canadian-American citizen who plays out of Church Point, N.S., tied for sixth, five shots off the lead, going into the weekend. At that lofty perch, if the second goal is reached, it will be a memorable finish for a player in his first major championship.
It wasn’t the three-under 67 that he put up in Thursday’s first round, but on a blustery day on Friday, Connelly came through with a 72 that saw him par his way through the front nine, before his lone birdie of the day on the par four 11th.
Three more bogeys would follow before he finished, but on a day when much more experienced players were putting up even bigger numbers, a two-over day proved to be quite efficient in achieving his first goal.
“Obviously there’s some holes where you have to play a bit more conservative. The course plays much longer with this wind direction, at least for me it does. There are some bunkers I can’t carry. It forced me to stay short on some holes. I feel like I hit a lot of five to three irons. Probably more than half the holes, I was hitting more than a five iron,” said Connelly.
“I’ve said all week I’m very comfortable on this golf course. I enjoy links golf. I like playing links golf and I’m just very confident where my game is at right now. I’ve been trending in the right direction for a while. It hasn’t shown up so much in the results. I’ve had a couple of good ones throughout the year,” he added.
Showers are possible on Saturday, but the sun will likely make an appearance and while the wind is expected to lessen, the direction could change frequently. The wind is expected to pick up again on Sunday when more showers are possible.
“it’s, obviously, my first Open experience, so I’m just kind of learning how you have to play out here. It’s a bit different than some of the courses we play on the European Tour,” he said.
“You can be a little bit more aggressive. You have some shorter clubs into the holes, but out here you really have to golf your ball and you have to be very strategic in how you attack the course,” added Connelly.
“Sometimes, you’re better off missing the green in the right spot as opposed to hitting the green in the wrong spot. It’s knowing where you can and can’t miss it,” he said.
Adam Hadwin shot a second round 82 and missed the cut.
The complete leaderboard is here.