Darren Clarke, no stranger to playing well in bad weather, did it again at Loch Lomond today and stood four clear of the field after a superb second-round 67 in the Barclays Scottish Open.
But Masters champion Phil Mickelson, who needed a top-two finish to replace Tiger Woods as world number one, slumped to a quintuple bogey nine on one hole and after a 74 was left waiting to see if he had survived the halfway cut.
Clarke, one ahead overnight, three-putted the short 11th – his second of the day – but birdied two of the next five holes and then in pouring rain picked up three more shots at the start of the front nine.
They took the 40-year-old to 10 under par and kept him on course not only for a first victory in two years, but also for a place in next week’s Open at St Andrews.
It was in similar conditions, of course, that he produced his heroics in the 2006 Ryder Cup only a month after his wife Heather had died of breast cancer.
Welshman Bradley Dredge and Swede Peter Hedblom were in the clubhouse on six under and they were joined in second place when Italian Edoardo Molinari, whose brother Francesco was also going well, birdied the fourth hole of his second round.
Mickelson was level par on the tee at the 455-yard 18th – his ninth – but walked off it five over.
The left-hander blasted his drive into the water down the left and did the same with his next attempt.
Television commentator – and former winner of the title – Wayne Riley then told Mickelson that the second ball was actually playable, but the left-hander had not declared the third to be a provisional and under the rules of golf had to continue with that one.
Mickelson came home in 34 with birdies at the third and fifth, and by sinking a 20-foot par putt on the ninth to remain three over he retained a chance of surviving the cut.
Even if he does not make it through to the weekend he will have another opportunity to reach number one in The Open at St Andrews next week.
But Woods will also be in action there and he has won the last two championships at the Home of Golf by eight and five strokes.