If the Old Course at St Andrews is Mozart, then Hoylake is Wagner: violent yet at the same time melodic, if in a frightening way. Today, the second day of torture for a few Australian players (to say nothing of the pain endured by the mighty John Daly, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson), the wind freshened, gusting in from the Irish Sea over the mud flats of the Dee estuary, exposed by the ebb tide. These trying conditions also exposed a few players who succumb to fits of rage after a poor shot, some shouting obscenities at either themselves, their clubs, or their caddies. It is embarrassing to witness.

Considering virtue in the context of sport, I came across a Polish academic, Maria Zowislo, who wrote about ancient Greece and its invention of sport. The Greeks’ philosophy of sport saw games as a complementing element of life. Fans still adhere to this ideal today, Professor Zowislo wrote, as do most players. It’s about competition, the struggle to win, but at the same time about how the athlete conducts himself or herself. Yet certain pathologies such as doping, commercialisation and the fetishisation of records have invaded modern sport.

It was Aristotle who, had he taught at the University of St Andrews rather than Athens, would definitely have been seen on the links several times a week, proclaimed, “I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies, for the hardest victory is over self.” Clearly, this great scholar and philosopher would’ve been deadly with a three iron in the wind.

Aristotle would’ve enjoyed Min Woo Lee’s golf. This young player has an excellent record so far, bespeaking of a significant future. His calm, often cheerful demeanour today seemed to rhyme with his play as he dug deep after two early bogeys to record an eagle and then three birdies. At three-under par for the championship, he remains well behind the leader, but an Aristotlean weekend will put him in contention.

Strangely, as the day wore on the forecast showers of rain failed to appear. Brian Harman, twice a Walker Cup player for the US, carded a 65 to lead the field for most of the day by quite a margin. Christo Lamprecht, the 6-foot-8 tall South African amateur who tore the course to pieces yesterday to record a 66, today tore himself to pieces with five bogeys over the first nine, and another three disasters on the way in. There was nothing his mentor Louis Oosthuizen, playing with him, could do to arrest the destruction. Long driving in a stiff breeze is a recipe for trouble. The poor fellow was eight-over for the day.

The wonderful Jordan Spieth enlivened the afternoon with three birdies over the outward nine to take second place for a while on the leaderboard behind Harman, while the lofty pine from Belfast could not get out of second gear all day and carded an indifferent 70, stuck at one-under for the championship. Spieth is perfectly at home with links golf, as his streak of brilliance at Birkdale in 2017 showed, though Hoylake is probably a fiercer challenge than Birkdale. Thus did the hopes of His Majesty’s subjects come to rest on the broad, muscular shoulders of Tommy Fleetwood. But, as the veteran golf writer John Hopkins pointed out yesterday (a scribe well worth following for his historical knowledge), it’s odd how seldom an English player wins an Open in England (as opposed to Scotland or Northern Ireland), the last such winner being Tony Jacklin in 1969 at Lytham.

Apart from Lee and a delightfully resurgent Jason Day, Australia’s cohort did not exactly dazzle the galleries. But Travis Smyth, whose links golf needs some fine-tuning, to be polite, did manage to inflict a wound on the Hoylake links with a hole-in-one on “Little Eye”, avenging his compatriot Lucas Herbert’s painful passage of the same hole yesterday. If there were a cash prize for this feat he might’ve considered spending some of it at a barber shop. Or perhaps not. A gentleman’s style of tonsure is his own business.

Heavy rain tomorrow is forecast. Let’s hope the fortunes of the Commonwealth of Australia, such as they are manifest here at Hoylake, take a solid turn for the better. For the weekend those fortunes appear to be in the hands of Messrs Lee and Day. Floreat Australia!