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GOLF

Miguel Angel Jimenez on top Friday at challenging British Open

Players contend with heat, sun and a speedy Muirfield course. Several contenders, including Tiger Woods, are close behind Jimenez.

By Bill Dwyre

10:59 PM EDT, July 19, 2013

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GULLANE, Scotland — Friday's second round of the British Open was more like a game of king of the mountain than a golf tournament.

Many tried to get there. Only Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez stayed on top.

He shot even par 71, to go with his 68 Thursday, and three under par was better than anybody else in the field could do, on yet another day of high temperatures, bright sunshine and a lightning-fast Muirfield golf course.

LEADERBOARD: British Open

The weekend might resemble a calvary charge. There are four players a shot behind Jimenez, including Tiger Woods, and 14 more within four shots of the lead, including Phil Mickelson.

Weekend TV ratings for this one should be good, despite the time difference in the United States. Anything can happen, and probably will.

Jimenez is 49. Were he to win, he would be the oldest major golf champion ever, a year older than Julius Boros, who was 48 when he won the 1968 PGA.

"I enjoy myself," Jimenez said. "I keep elastic and flexible. I'm still training and walking and still able to shoot low and still be here. "

Clustered with Woods at two-under 140 are England's Lee Westwood, Sweden's Henrik Stenson and long-hitting American Dustin Johnson. Westwood, a veteran and longtime hopeful of British fans as a major winner, shot the best round of the day with his 68, which matched Charl Schwartzel.

Maybe this will be the year. Westwood was asked, in light of Scotland's Andy Murray winning at Wimbledon to break a 77-year drought for the British men, if he felt there might be some karma.

"Yeah, I suppose so," he said. "There's definitely a feel-good factor in Britain."

Woods got to three under twice, but bogeyed the par four 11th and didn't get back to two under until he sank a 12-footer on No. 18 for a birdie.

He finished early and seemed to like his chances for the weekend.

"I'm in a good spot," he said "These guys have to go out this afternoon and obviously play a course that is quick, and it's drying out and with a different wind. So it will be tough out there."

And so it was.

Zach Johnson, the first-round leader, reached five under twice, but faded at the end, double bogeying the 15th and hacking it around in the rough for another bogey on the 18th.

Rafael Cabrera-Bello of Spain also got it to five under, with a birdie on No. 7. But like all the others, Muirfield reeled him back in.

Stenson and Dustin Johnson each rode a roller coaster all day. Stenson had five birdies, but also a double bogey and two bogeys. Johnson had an eagle and two birdies, but also four bogeys.

Mickelson, trying to win his second straight links tournament after clinching the Scottish Open, had a similar ride in his 74. He had three birdies, two bogeys and two double bogeys.

Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke, champion two years ago at Royal St. George, had among the more remarkable rounds. He made five birdies, but carded an eight on No. 6 when it took him three shots to get out of a bunker. He ended up even par and still on the leaderboard at one over.

Nick Faldo, three-time British champion, who was trying again at age 56, said after his 78 that left him 15 over par and done for the tournament, "I'm delighted I did it. I don't recommend it."

bill.dwyre@latimes.com

after his 78 that left him 15 over par and done for the tournament, "I'm delighted I did it. I don't recommend it."

bill.dwyre@latimes.com