Rory McIlory was faced with a three-shot deficit and far tougher conditions when he began his second round of the 139th Open Championship at St Andrews today.
McIlroy enjoyed a two-shot overnight lead after taking full advantage of the near-perfect conditions available to yesterday's early starters, equalling the lowest round in major championship history with a stunning 63.
But by the time he teed off on the Old Course this afternoon, puddles were visible on several fairways following overnight and morning rain, while a blustery wind was buffeting the exposed links.
South African Louis Oosthuizen, second overnight, had also added a 67 to his opening 65 to set a testing clubhouse target of 12-under-par, equalling the Open record in relation to par established by Nick Faldo and Greg Norman in 1990.
McIlroy began confidently enough, opening with a par four to remain nine-under-par and outright second, with 1989 winner Mark Calcavecchia surprisingly alone in third place on seven-under, the 50-year-old having completed a flawless 67 in the first match out at 6:30am.
English duo Lee Westwood and Paul Casey were a shot further back after rounds of 71 and 69 respectively, although both had reason to be slightly disappointed with their position.
Westwood carded 17 pars and just one birdie as he saw several other chances narrowly miss, most noticeably on the ninth.
The world number three was already moving towards the hole to pick the ball out when he saw his birdie attempt catch the hole and spin out - much to his disbelief.
Casey carded five birdies in an outward half of 31 alone, but then ran up a triple-bogey seven on the famous 17th, taking two shots to hack out of heavy rough to the left of the fairway.
"That's the thickest rough on the golf course and I would just like it thinned out," said Casey unsurprisingly, although he at least birdied the 18th to partially make amends.
McIlroy also parred the second and third before play was suspended shortly before 2:40pm due to the strong winds, the main problem being balls moving on the most exposed greens.
Players had the option of completing the hole they were on when the hooter sounded, with Tiger Woods and Justin Rose making the short walk back from the first green to the clubhouse.
R&A rules official Ian Pattinson said: "We are trying to hold the players in position on the course. They are being directed to points of evacuation and held there in the hope that this blows over."
Masters champion Phil Mickelson completed a second round of 71 shortly before play was suspended to lie 12 shots off the pace on level-par.
And the world number two admitted: "I've had a poor deal with the weather but I've also played poorly."