The Open 2015: Dustin Johnson on course for redemption after 'Armageddon'

    St. Andrews, Scotland (CNN)It wasn't quite Armageddon, but it was definitely a long day at St. Andrews.

    At the conclusion of Friday it ended as it began, with Dustin Johnson leading tournament and on course to secure his first major.
    But that only tells half the story on a day when the east coast of Scotland showed just how wet it can be in the height of summer, in the middle of The Open Championship.
      Three hours of play were lost in the morning as torrential rain overwhelmed the Old Course, an army of greenkeepers working tirelessly to ensure the players were back out by 10 am.
      And when the evening gloom rendered any further play impossible just before 10 pm local time, a sizable chunk of the field had a sizable chunk of their second rounds still to play.
      The Open 2015: All you need to know about St Andrews
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      Johnson called it a night with his ball on the 14th fairway and his score at 10-under-par, one clear of England's Danny Willett, who was lucky enough to complete his round.
      A shot further back is Paul Lawrie, home-crowd favorite among the Scottish patrons and the 1999 (British) Open champion, as well as Australian Jason Day, a perennial contender in recent majors.
      "We needed to play," Johnson said when quizzed about the late finish. "The more we get done, the easier it is for the return.
      "I'm in a good spot, I feel great. It definitely got tricky this afternoon, all day. Even the front side the wind was howling and it was blowing straight left to right pretty much. It played very tough all day.
      "It was a long day. I'll go and get a good night's rest and get back out here tomorrow."
      Another long day beckons.
      He and a host of others will be back at 7 am to complete round two before striding out for round three in the afternoon.
      Torrential rain
      St. Andrews had taken a fearful battering overnight, emerging from the light as more of a lagoon than a links course.
      The first group out had only just reached the green on the opening hole before play was suspended at 6.46am in front a few hardy spectators.
      The rain was as relentless as the clean-up operation, mops, squeegees and pumps all used to rid the fairways and greens of as much standing water as possible.
      While spectators huddled in whatever tent they could find, those working to rid the course of water ensured balls were once again flying by 10 am.
      When they did, conditions had reverted to those seen on Thursday -- bright skies and light winds making for favorable scoring conditions.
      The first to take advantage and move past Johnson's overnight tally of seven-under was his compatriot and namesake Zach, preceded only briefly by Willett.
      The Yorkshireman predicted potential "Armageddon" given Friday's weather forecast, but after play was called off he went back to bed for an hour and emerged with a spring in his step.
      Despite a couple of dropped shots on the back nine he birdied the last to take the clubhouse lead at nine-under and called his spot atop the leaderboard a "childhood dream."
      The two-time European Tour winner received a barrage of messages from friends and family, including one from someone special that ensured his feet stayed firmly on the floor.
      He explained: "I've just had a text message from my mum saying 'Well done, you've made the cut.'"
      Huddle up
      Behind him, the pack started to bunch up as the late starters took to the links.
      Australian Mark Warren finished on eight-under, a score matched by his compatriot and 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott.
      Not until 5:48 pm local time did Johnson, and the man that pipped him to the U.S. Open crown last month — Jordan Spieth — take to the first tee.
      The 21-year-old Texan has won the year's first two majors and is bidding to become only the second player ever to win the first three of the season since Ben Hogan in 1953.
      He enjoyed a mixed front nine, two bogeys sandwiched by two birdies, before he got into red numbers for round two on the par-four ninth hole.
      But alongside him, Johnson was busy reclaiming his lead.
      Three birdies on the front nine took him to double figures before an exquisite chip on the short 10th hole yielded another.
      With the light fading and temperature dropping, Johnson handed it back the very next hole and by the time his group had reached their tee shots on 14 their day was done.
      Spieth had by that point dropped a shot on the 11th and finished the day as he'd started on five-under, five shots behind his playing partner.
      But with just under a third of his second round to go, the landscape could be radically different by the time round three begins.
      Redemption
      For Johnson, victory here would be extra sweet.
      A string of near misses in major championships are already under his belt, the pain of three-putting on the final hole at the U.S. Open a few weeks back still raw.
      In between Johnson and Spieth a healthy cast of challengers is assembling, hinting at a potentially classic weekend ahead.
      As well as Scott, and Day, Louis Oosthuizen, the man who won the last time the Open came to St. Andrews in 2010, and 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel are in contention.
      To complete a South African hat-trick, Retief Goosen, the 46-year-old two-time major champion, also lurks.
      There will be no lurking from Tiger Woods over the weekend though.
      The 14-time major champion sank to six-over on Friday and must suffer the ignominy of completing his round on Saturday just so he can get his exit rubber-stamped.
      But the final act of Friday was also its most fitting.
      After 38 Open Championships, and five victories, Tom Watson waved goodbye to the tournament in front of an ovation that warmed an increasingly chilly evening.
      It mattered little that the 65-year-old bogeyed his final five holes, or that he finished last — the love held for him in Scotland refuses be diminished.
      As he paused on the Swilcan Bridge in a sea of flashing bulbs, he held his arms aloft then pointed to the sky and smiled.
      In an emotional final press call he insisted: "There should be no tears. It's all joy. This is a special place with special people."
      After raising a chuckle with a fleeting impression of Jack Nicklaus, Watson departed but not before saying: "It's been one heck of a run."