"We had a good time", Koepka said.
All that mattered to him was the present.
Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson each finished about the time the nasty weather arrived Friday, and instead of trying to catch up to the leaders, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Justin Rose found themselves effectively out of the tournament.
Rose took it the hardest of the star players past year, saying it was "ridiculous" to see the disparity of scores based on the draw.
"I was champing at the bit to get back, " he said. I'm not putting that much pressure on myself, but I'm very much wanting to win it.
He was at 11-under 199, breaking by six shots the 54-hole record at Royal Birkdale that Tom Watson set in 1983.
McIlroy was three under for his round through six holes, eight shots better than at the same point Thursday when caddie JP Fitzgerald delivered his expletive-laced advice to remember who he was.
Johnson will be taking extra care not to deliver himself a knockout blow before a ball has even been struck this time around. He led by four at the Masters two years ago and won by that margin. "I don't think I even felt this way at the '15 Masters after Friday", he said. "I understand that leads can be squandered quickly". "If it's your week, a lot of times you need one of those momentum keepers and he certainly got that". And if I don't win [Sunday], it has nothing to do with that. "I really enjoy playing golf with him". I was so in the zone, was trying to finish the round without a bogey. From 60 feet behind the 18th green, he lagged it to 2 feet and tapped in for a 62.
He added: "Fortunately we have been here before, and fortunately we are not going for the first major". It took 44 years for someone to top it. Spieth is at 9 under for the tournament, while Kuchar is 7 under. Flawless and featuring birdies at the second, eighth, ninth, 14th and 17th, he reckoned this one was close to perfection.
He had shared the overnight lead with Matt Kuchar - who went out early and shot 71 to sit as Spieth's nearest challenger - and Brooks Koepka, who fell three strokes off the pace, level with home hope Ian Poulter.
Co-leader Kuchar, meanwhile, made all five of his birdies on the front nine, and had to settle for a string of nine pars on the back, but he'll no doubt be satisfied with his day's efforts.
Stuck in the back of a greenside pot-bunker at the 16th with an awkward stance, Spieth splashed out safely to the right of the pin and drained the par putt.
"Padraig won the thing from the bad side of the draw, so it can be done", McIlroy said. He knows how to play his games.
"To be in after two days and be under-par for this championship after the way I started, I'm ecstatic with that", said McIlroy. "These things happen. I've had a few things happen to me here and there so it's nothing new". Still lurking, he ran off three straight bogeys early on the back nine and shot 71 to fall nine back.
Although he made his fourth bogey of the second round at the next hole, Spieth was more than happy with his day's work.
"I watched some of the golf this morning and it looked awfully challenging and like under par would be a good score", Kuchar said.
Spieth, displaying a fantastic short game whenever he seemed ready to get in trouble, did not make a bogey in the first round of the Open.
"Conditions were really hard today".
"I guess I'm just not playing that good". "I was excited to get over here".
"I chipped in right before it and it couldn't have been better timing".
QUOTEWORTHY: "Obviously, I'm not happy about it because I nearly screwed up my British Open". A much needed birdie on the 15 steadied the ship and allowed him to finish the day two-under but it is likely to prove too little too late.