Mickelson reigns as rain reins in late starters

Mickelson went out before the worst of the weather hit Royal Troon and shot a steady 69 to close on 10 under, but it was Stenson's 65 that really caught the eye.

PhilMickelsonCropped

Phil Mickelson leads the championship by one shot.

Phil Mickelson's Open Championship lead was cut to one shot by Henrik Stenson, but the afternoon starters failed to make ground and Jordan Spieth just made the cut.

Mickelson went out before the worst of the weather hit Royal Troon and shot a steady 69 to close on 10 under, but it was Stenson's 65 that really caught the eye.





The Swede bucked the back-nine trend by going three under after the turn to match his outward-bound effort.

Meanwhile, the likes of Patrick Reed and Martin Kaymer, who had just about clung onto Mickelson's coat-tails as he narrowly missed out on the first 62 in major history, fell off the pace amid testing conditions.

Rory McIlroy, who claimed the Claret Jug in 2014 and teed off in the afternoon, looked to be making light of the wind and rain when he climbed into the top five after going three under through seven.

But the Northern Irishman gave strokes back at nine, 10, 12 and 13, with just one birdie to soften the blow in an even-par round.

​World number one Jason Day and U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson carded 70 and 69 respectively, but sit well off the pace.

The curse of the afternoon groups was confirmed when Steve Stricker, who had made 14 straight pars to remain in the top 10, took eight at the par-four 15th – his only dropped shots of the day.

That left Soren Kjeldsen, Keegan Bradley and reigning champion Zach Johnson – all morning starters – to round out the top five.

Down the leaderboad there were narrow escapes for Spieth and Masters champion Danny Willett, who made it through alongside veteran Scot Colin Montgomerie on four over.

Former champion Ernie Els was among those to miss out, keeping the company of the tournament's last three winners at Troon – Mark Calcavecchia, Todd Hamilton and Justin Leonard.