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.
Spieth, 23, finished a rather treacherous second day at Royal Birkdale 1 under-69 to move six under overall, two shots ahead of second-place Matt Kucher who he shared an overnight lead with. Spieth held his nerve in heavy rain fall and swirling winds and took control with fine birdies on the 11th and 12th holes and opened up a three shot lead with splendid eagle on the 15th, before missing a par putt shot on the following hole.
After missing last season's competition with a foot injury that saw him cooped up in the commentary box instead, Poulter exploded back into life on Thursday, strutting across the greens as he produced his best opening round at a major to date.
That confidence continued to exude from him on Friday as he shot a three-under 67 to remain firmly in the fight for his first major championship.
US Open champion Brooks Koepka, who also shared the overnight lead, remains tied with Poulter at three-under par.
McIlroy continued to make marked progress after a disastrous start that saw him card five bogeys from his first six holes on the opening day. Spurred on by some harsh words from caddy JP Fitzgerald, the 28-year-old limped his way back into contention and started Friday morning at one over-71 having just about separated himself from the stragglers.
Having done that, Friday was all about closing the gap and he managed just that on an excellent second day, carding four birdies and not a single bogey until the 13th to to finish a two-under par round which would leave him five strokes behind leader Spieth.
2016 champion Henrik Stenson finished the day two-over par but could be forgiven when it emerged the house he has been staying in during the championship had been burgled on Thursday.
The property in Formby had been broken into while he was playing his first round with thieves taking personal items, including his course clothing for the week. He returned to action Friday afternoon kitted out in fresh attire provided by sponsors.