ST ANDREWS, UNITED KINGDOM (AFP) – Australia’s Cameron Smith leads the 150th British Open at the halfway stage after a superb second round of 64 on Friday left him on 13 under par for the tournament, while Cameron Young and Rory McIlroy lurk just behind but an emotional Tiger Woods failed to make the weekend.
Smith, the world number six, followed an opening 67 with an eight-under-par second round to lead by two strokes from Young, the 25-year-old New Yorker.
Brisbane-native Smith’s round on Friday featured six birdies – including at each of the first three holes – an eagle at the par-five 14th, and no dropped shots.
His halfway total of 131 is the lowest ever 36-hole score in an Open at St Andrews.
“It’s obviously a really good spot to be in. I feel like I’ve been in this spot a lot over the past couple of years, and things just haven’t quite gone my way yet,” said Smith, who won the Players Championship in March.
“I’ve just got to be really patient over the weekend. I think the golf course is going to get a lot harder and a lot faster.”
Young had led by two overnight after opening with a 64 of his own and followed that with a 69 to sit at 11-under. But there is a sense in St Andrews that the main threat to Smith may come from McIlroy, who built on his opening round of 66 with a 68 and is on 10-under.
The favourite coming into the week, McIlroy produced six birdies after going out in fine conditions on Friday, with three in successive holes at the start of his inward nine.
“I know I’ve got the game. That’s all I need. I just need to go out and play my game and play my golf over the next two days and that’s all I can do,” McIlroy said.
Norway’s Viktor Hovland also sits at 10-under, while former world number one Dustin Johnson shot a 67 and is nine-under.
Johnson led at the halfway stage on 10-under but a third-round 75 ended his hopes.
World number one Scottie Scheffler and England’s Tyrrell Hatton, both moved onto eight-under at the halfway stage.
The last player to win the Masters and British Open in the same year was Woods in 2005.
However, he shot a six-over-par 78 in a grim first round that began with him going into the Swilcan Burn at the first hole.
A 75 on Friday, featuring a double-bogey at 16, represented an improvement, but at nine-over he will not be returning for the weekend.