ST ANDREWS, Scotland - This British Open is not getting any better for Tiger Woods.

As the light rapidly diminished over St Andrews Friday night and time was called on the day's play, Woods was on the 12th hole, needing to make up five shots in the last seven holes of his second round Saturday to reach level par and a chance to make the halfway cut.

It's not impossible, but the inward holes of the Old Course form its most testing stretch. Gusts of up to 40 mph are forecast for Saturday morning, and Woods is a golfer stuck in transition.

Woods' front nine late Friday was an improvement on his first round, but that's not saying much. He shot a humiliating 4-over-par 40 on the inviting outward nine on Thursday, and Friday he had a limp 2-over 38, with dropped shots at the fourth and sixth. Woods did at least complete his day's work with the slightest glimmer of hope, having claimed his first and only birdie of the day at the short par-4 10th.

Woods is 5 over with those seven holes to play. If he misses the cut (projected at even), it would be the first time he missed the cut in the U.S. Open and British Open in the same year.

Phil Mickelson refused to comment after dropping a shot at the short par-4 18th hole, which completed a rocky second round of par 72 by the 2013 British Open champion.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Mickelson talked about having had "fun" on the Old Course in Thursday's first round when he shot an eventful 70, dotted with five birdies and three dropped shots. After he started brightly Friday, gaining three shots in the first 10 holes, the fun seemed to run out on the back nine, as four bogeys and a birdie brought his score for the day back to level par.

A moment of Mickelson magic came at the notoriously difficult 17th hole on the Old Course -- the Road Hole -- when from 200 yards in light rough he cut a low, long iron approach onto the front of the green. Two putts gave the five-time major winner a par 4 on a hole many players say is playing like a par 5.

Mickelson sits at 2 under after two rounds and in a tie for 40th place. He is eight shots behind leader Dustin Johnson.