Cameron Smith (15/8 Open Championship outright) took control of the 150th Open Championship with a glorious second round of 64 at St Andrews.
Overnight rain improved the scoring conditions by softening the greens, and Smith took advantage, birdieing the opening three holes before picking up two more stokes to reach the turn in 31.
A birdie at the 10th and an eagle at the 14th helped him home in 33 for a round of the day 64 at the Old Course.
The 28-year-old won the Players Championship earlier this year, and securing a maiden major title appears the next logical step in his career.
However, Smith is not looking that far ahead, with him thoroughly aware of the pitfalls that links golf can send your way if you don’t respect it.
“I think just being smart,” he said. “We’ve done a really good job of creating angles into some pins and just hitting the right shots into the greens, and a few putts have dropped as well; it’s been really nice.
“I think you have to be patient on links golf. The course is so short, and you can definitely get ahead of yourself; you are constantly hitting wedges into greens and just being aware of that.”
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Smith’s 13-under total is a 36-hole Open record, and as of writing, he sits two shots clear of overnight leader Cameron Young (15/2 Open Championship Outright), who followed up his 64 with a solid 69.
Young’s fellow Americans Dustin Johnson and Scottie Scheffler also looked solid on Friday, signing for rounds of 67 and 66, respectively, to move into the top 10.
It was a good day all-around for the Australians as Adam Scott (50/1 Open Championship outright) also avoided a bogey on his way to a 65 to head into the weekend on seven-under for the tournament, a stroke worse off than Tyrrell Hatton, who signed for a Friday 66.
🗣 | “If he can come in with a three-under round then of course he’s going to be right in the mix.”
🧐 | Rory McIlroy gets his 2nd round underway shortly, @Rupertbell discusses his outright chances and the conditions at St Andrews. #The150thOpen
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There were emotional scenes earlier in the day as Tiger Woods crossed the Swilken Bridge for perhaps the final time as he crashed out of the competition.
The American, who won this event at St Andrews in both 2000 and 2005, followed his opening 78 with a 75 to finish on nine-over par.
Woods’ missed short birdie putt on the last was typical of a frustrating two days, and he admitted afterwards that he is unsure if he will ever tee it up again at the Old Course.
“It was very emotional for me. I’ve been coming here since 1995, and the next one comes around in 2030, but I don’t know if I will be physically able to play, so this felt to me like it will be the last time to play at St. Andrews.
“I have been lucky enough to win here twice – it felt emotional because I don’t know whether I will be able to play when it comes back here.”
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