Only golfers would go out in that.
It was a hell of a day for it but, with the kind of gritty resolve usually reserved for the likes of the Ancient Mariner, we completed round two of a sodden, wind-ravaged Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Within minutes of play finishing, the sun came out. Bloomin’ typical eh?
“It got to a point where it wasn’t even golf,” gasped Robert MacIntyre after a wild buffeting at Kingsbarns that was broadly equivalent to being perched in the crow’s nest of a galleon during a tempest. He may have been drookit and dishevelled but the dogged MacIntyre had emerged unscathed.
While Englishman Richard Mansell clambered to the top of the leaderboard on 10-under after a tenacious 4-under 68 over the Old Course, MacIntyre’s battling 2-under 70 a few miles down the East Neuk hoisted the Scot up 35 places into a share of fifth on 6-under.
Padraig Harrington of Ireland looks on from the 15th tee holding an umbrella in the rain during the second round of the 2022 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at Kingsbarns Golf Links in Kingsbarns, Scotland. (Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
During a rancid day, it became so wet, even the laptops of the golf writers just about had moss growing between the keys. Toss in the violent gusts and it was all about clinging on grimly and limiting the damage.
Some fared better than others. Romain Langasque, who led overnight after a record-equaling 61 over the Old Course, came a cropper at formidable Carnoustie with an 80. And spare a thought for poor old Alexander Knappe, whose first four holes in a shotgun start from the 14th of the Old Course produced a five, a six, a nine and an eight. The German eventually signed for a torrid 88.
Even Shane Lowry, the recently crowned BMW PGA champion, found the going tough and toiled to a 79 at Kingsbarns to languish down on 5 over. Other star attractions like Matt Fitzpatrick and Rory McIlroy sit on 2 under and 1 under respectively.
As for MacIntyre? Well, the in-form Oban man harnessed the appalling conditions to fine effect and bolstered his push for a second victory in three events. The 26-year-old, fresh from his fine success in the Italian Open recently, offset three bogeys with a haul of five, hard-earned birdies to lurk four off the halfway pace with two circuits of the Old Course to come.
Despite the rotten weather, MacIntyre relished the challenge.
Robert MacIntyre of Scotland looks on after playing a shot during the second round of the 2022 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at Kingsbarns Golf Links in Kingsbarns, Scotland. (Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
“I’m soaked through, I’ve got water in my shoes but I just had to laugh all the way,” said MacIntyre, who got through three towels and 12 gloves. “It’s the way I play my best golf, with a smile on my face. But it was brutal. It’s probably the hardest conditions I’ve ever played in.”
It was a day for throwing away the yardage book, knuckling down and relying on those old golfing instincts.
“I didn’t look at the book once and it was just a case of moving it forward and being able to see it,” added MacIntyre, whose best finish in the Dunhill Links remains a share of 26th in 2019. “The 12th was playing like a par 6. I hit it out of position so chipped it with an 8-iron about 120 yards. Then I chipped a 5-iron about 140 yards and then hit a 9-iron into the green. I just played it like a par-6. It was just about keeping the ball in play, keeping it out the sky and certain winds and just dealing with what you’ve got. I just want to have a chance on the back nine on Sunday. That’s what determines if it is a good week or a mediocre week; having a chance. Top-10s are alright, but back-door top-10s aren’t what we want. We want to be fighting for wins.”
Mansell, who is seeking his maiden win on the DP World Tour, winkled out five birdies and spilled just one shot in a defiant 4-under round which left the 27-year-old two shots clear of Sweden’s former Scottish Open champion, Alex Noren.
“I can’t feel anything in my body right now,” chittered Mansell as he emerged for a post-round analysis. “It was just gritty and about personality; just trying to stay positive and focused.”
Noren, a 10-time champion on the DP World Tour, added a 69 for his 8-under tally while Denmark’s Niklas Norgaard Moller and Antoine Rozner share third on 7 under.
“I’ve played in wind and rain many times but nothing like this,” said Norgaard Moller after a 74 on the Old Course. “On 12, I was hitting a full driver and it flew 170 metres right into the wind. What can you do but laugh?”