Open: Jamie McLeary battles elements in round two

James McLeary tees off to start day two at 6.25am

James McLeary tees off to start day two at 6.25am

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Out in the first group today was Bonnyrigg-based Jamie McLeary, who started in joint-66th after an opening 73.

Unfortunately, it looked as though he’d got the short end of the straw in terms of the weather for the second round.

Just as he set out at 6.25am, a heavy rain shower hit Hoylake and the wind was gusty – it was predicted to reach 35mph.

It led to the former Scottish Challenge winner dropping a shot at the second.

With the top 70 and ties making it to the weekend, he probably couldn’t afford to suffer any further spillage for the remainder of the round.

Indeed, with fewer gusts forecast for later in the day, a few birdies were almost certainly required.

This, of course, is his debut in the game’s oldest major and he’d “really enjoyed” day one.

“I’m a bit disappointed in my score because I thought I played a lot better than one over,” he reflected.

“But I spoke to my dad when I came off the 18th and he said, ‘no, you were average’! That brought me back down to earth.

“I dropped a lot of shots just after the turn, out of nothing really. On another day I could have scored a lot lower.”

Meanwhile, the attendance so far this week is already been 12,000 down on 2006 – the last time Hoylake hosted the event.

After seeing crowds of just under 43,000 on the practice days, 35,382 watched the first round.

Eight years ago, the respective figures were just under 52,000 and 38,500.

Meanwhile, Stephen Gallacher is only interested in seeing his name on the Open Championship leaderboard on Sunday afternoon.

The Lothians star jointly held top spot in the early stages of the event’s 143rd staging at Royal Liverpool.

It followed him reeling off three birdies in a row from fourth after starting with three straight pars. He eventually signed for a two-under-par 70 to sit four shots behind leader Rory McIlroy at the end of the opening day.

“It was good today and I really enjoyed it,” said Gallacher after signing off with a birdie to sit joint-19th on Merseyside.

“Any time you shoot under par at a major you know you have done well. It is a good start and something to build on tomorrow.

“I didn’t drive the ball too great. I hit a few into the rough for my bogeys, so there is always room for improvement. The game-plan and course management was good. I just need to iron out a few errant tee shots.”

On seeing his name on the leaderboard so early in the tournament, the double Dubai Desert Classic champion added: “I had only played a few holes by then and you can’t start looking at that.

“There was still a long way to go and I was just trying to get as many birdies as I could.”

The reason he managed just two more after that early burst was due to the conditions stiffening as his round progressed.

“We got the first seven holes done with hardly any wind and there were chances early on,” said the Ryder Cup contender.

“But then it picked up on the back nine. It was straight into the wind and was playing tough. It was becoming a club and a half wind.”

The event had started with some players feeling that it wasn’t a true links test this week due to the course being so green.

But, after a day under a baking hot sun, Gallacher believes it is going to become a lot bouncier in the final three rounds.

“The greens are drying out a bit and it is getting a bit more fiery which is what we want,” he declared.

In today’s second round, Gallacher wasn’t out until 3pm – around 45 minutes before Paul McKechnie.

On his debut in the Claret Jug joust, the Braid Hills-attached player signed for a four-over-par 76.

Out in 37 after starting with a bogey, he began the journey for home with back-to-back birdies to stand level-par.

But a double-bogey 6 at the 14th was then followed by dropped shots at each of the last two holes.