The trio are among the early finishers to Round 2 at Carnoustie in Scotland
Johnson, McIlroy and Fleetwood excel on Day 2 of British Open
Former champion Zach Johnson survived miserable conditions and birdied the 18th for the second day running to seize the clubhouse lead at the British Open, but Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy also excelled early on at Carnoustie on Friday.
The 42-year-old Johnson, who won the Claret Jug at St Andrews in 2015, followed his 69 in the first round with a second-round 67 in the rain, as he moved to six under par for the tournament.
He recovered from a bogey at the first hole of his morning round with five birdies and no more dropped shots after that to lead by a stroke in the clubhouse from Fleetwood.
The latter had briefly surged to the top of the leaderboard at the end of his second round, starting the day one over par before shooting a brilliant six-under-par 65 to go to five-under overall.
That put him level with overnight leader Kevin Kisner of the United States before Kisner began his second round at just before 4pm UAE time.
Fleetwood was already drying off by that point, delighted to also cap his round with a birdie at the difficult 18th hole on the Scottish links.
That was his sixth birdie of a round that was not blemished by a single bogey, with the 27-year-old showing how comfortable he is at a venue where he holds the course record following a 63 at last year's Dunhill Championship.
Friday's effort was surely better than that, given the weather, and the score was also the lowest for the second round of a British Open at this venue.
Now right in contention going into the weekend, Fleetwood can keep an eye on how his rivals fare in the afternoon before assessing whether he really can become the first English golfer to lift the Claret Jug since Nick Faldo back in 1992.
"I never felt at ease all day, but the ball was doing what I wanted it to do," said Fleetwood, who was unable to properly challenge in last year's Open on his home course at Royal Birkdale.
"We are only halfway through the tournament unfortunately. You've got 36 holes to go but there's no point thinking about the end game.
"Thirty-six holes is a long time, it's two days, and for me, I just have to keep doing the same things. If I can hit it like I did today then I'll have a lot of chances going into the weekend."