Latest: Rory McIlroy back in the mix after 68

Update 3.07pm: Rory McIlroy has signed for a second round 68 at the Open.

He's one under heading into the weekend at Royal Birkdale and four shots behind leaders Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepa who have just teed off.

The 2014 champion says it was important to start well on a day with strong winds: “It’s really tough out there. I was lucky enough to get off to that great start but the conditions got a little bit worse on the back-nine.

Rory McIlroy during day two of The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA

“I think this south-east wind we’re playing in today is the toughest wind that you can get on this golf course.

“I made a couple of bogeys on the way in but I was really pleased to make that birdie on 17. I just thought if I can stay under par for the championship, I’m right there for the weekend.”

Matt Kuchar remains the clubhouse leader at four under after a one over round of 71.

Update 2.33pm: Sergio Garcia feared he had blown his chances of winning the Open Championship with a self-inflicted shoulder injury after he lashed out at a gorse bush at Royal Birkdale.

Garcia's 69 was one of the best scores of a windswept second day, but the Masters champion thought he may not be able to complete the round following an incident on the fourth hole.

After hitting an errant tee shot on the 199-yard par three, Garcia's backswing on his second shot was restricted by a gorse bush and contributed to a poor chip which came up short of the green.

Sergio Garcia takes his 2nd shot on the 1st hole. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA

The 37-year-old Spaniard then took out his frustrations on the gorse, angrily hitting it with his club and immediately grabbing his right shoulder in pain.

Garcia went on to bogey the hole and although he drove the green on the fifth to set up an eagle, he received treatment on the course and planned to undergo more on Friday afternoon.

"It didn't feel good," Garcia said after posting a halfway total of two over par. "I hit it backwards, it was a very weak position, and it felt like the muscles went on top of each other. So it didn't feel good at all.

"Obviously I'm not happy about it because I almost screwed up my British Open, fortunately for me I didn't. It's not want you want to do."

Update 1.45pm: Co-leader Matt Kuchar drove into a fairway bunker on 18, from where he could only splash out and make bogey, finishing with a round of 71 to post the clubhouse lead at four under.

Rory McIlroy was faring even worse as having found heavy rough with his drive on 15 he took two to get back onto the fairway and made a bogey six.

Update 1.18pm: Rory McIlroy has dropped his first shot of day two at the 13th hole at Royal Birkdale.

After a front-nine charge took him into the top-ten, McIlroy saved par with a 12-footer at the 10th, repeated the feat from slightly further out at the next and escaped from a greenside bunker at 12. But his bogey-free run came to an end when he could not get up and down from short of the 13th green.

It was his first bogey since carding five in the opening six holes of the tournament and takes him back to one under.

Matt Kuchar (after 17 holes), Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka (both starting later this afternoon) remain in a share for the lead at five under, two shots clear of the field.

Kuchar had gone to six under and back to five again as he followed a two-putt birdie at the long 15th with a two-putt bogey at the next after missing the green.

Zach Johnson, the 2015 champion, has rebounded from an opening 75 to shoot a four-under 66, which included five birdies, to move to one over.

Update 12.30pm: Rory McIlroy is discovering what a difference a day makes by completing a three-under opening nine holes at Royal Birkdale which was eight shots better than his first round effort.

Rory McIlroy smiles with his caddie JP Fitzgerald at Royal Birkdale. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA

The 2014 Open champion was five over through six holes on Thursday and seemingly destined to crash out before a back-nine rally. He has maintained the momentum today with three birdies and no dropped shots as he covered the front nine in 31 - the best of all the morning starters.

That puts him within three shots of the lead held by Matt Kuchar, a seemingly unthinkable prospect at the same point yesterday.

The American is in a tie for the lead with compatriots Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka, both mid-afternoon starters in the forecasted worst of the windier weather.

Another American Bubba Watson had improved his overnight two under with birdies at the second and sixth to move into fourth, but dropped those gains with bogeys at the seventh and eighth.

England's Paul Casey, celebrating his 40th birthday by wearing shoes with PC on one heel and 40 on the other, began the day one off the lead at four under but five bogeys saw him go out in 39 and another at the 13th has left him two over for the tournament.

Update 11.30pm: A bogey dropped early leader Matt Kuchar back into a four-way tie for the lead after South African Charl Schwartzel birdied the par-three fourth to get to five under.

But the 2011 Masters champion followed it with a double-bogey six to fall back to three under alongside Spaniard Rafael Cabrera Bello and big-hitting American Bubba Watson, who improved his overnight two under with a birdie at the second.

Rory McIlroy got his name on the leaderboard and within one of that group and just three behind Kuchar after hitting his approach to the sixth, the hardest hole on the course, to four feet.

Matt Kuchar putts on the 7th green. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA

Shane Lowry is two over, Padraig Harrington three over and Darren Clarke five over as they prepare for afternoon starts to their second rounds.

Original story: Rory McIlroy picked up where he left off with two birdies in his first three holes to gain some early momentum on the second day of the Open at Royal Birkdale.

McIlroy admitted the putt he holed on the 18th green on Thursday to get him back to one-over gave him a much-needed boost.

It appeared to have the desired effect as the 28-year-old former champion hammered a wind-assisted three-wood 372 yards down the first and chipped to six feet to get back to level par.

Rory McIlroy reacts to a putt during day two of The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA

Frustratingly he left a 15ft birdie attempt short at the next hole but already looked in far better shape than he had yesterday afternoon when he was five over through six holes and seemingly destined to crash out before his back-nine rally.

McIlroy's precision off the tee and approach play was much more controlled than his previous round and when he hit it to 10 feet at the third for his fifth birdie in his last seven holes he was under par for the first time in the tournament.

However, it still left him five shots off the pace as joint overnight leader Matt Kuchar struck out on his own by getting to six under thanks to a chip-in birdie at the third and a long putt at the next making up for dropping a shot at the second.

Kuchar then scrambled a par from heavy rough by the side of the sixth green to hold a one-shot advantage over compatriots Jordan Spieth and US Open champion Brooks Koepka - both due out in the forecasted worst of the windier afternoon weather.

Canadian debutant Austin Connelly rattled off 10 straight pars before a birdied at the 11th briefly got him to four under only to hand that gain back at the 13th.

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