Cameron Smith’s putter helped him set multiple records as he carded an 8-under-par 64 Friday to take the second-round lead at The Open Championship at St. Andrews in Scotland.
Smith’s 13-under 131 is the lowest 36-hole score in relation to par in the history of The Open. The mulleted Australian got there by making 253 feet of putts, reportedly the most in a single round in PGA Tour history.
Smith drained a 47-foot birdie at the par-4 first, went on to birdie his first three holes and added a 21-foot par save at No. 5. But the biggest highlight came at the par-5 14th, where he reached the green in two and got a downhill, right-to-left eagle putt to drop from 64 feet out.
The bogey-free round allowed The Players Championship winner to lead Cameron Young (69 Friday) by two, with Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (68) and Norway’s Viktor Hovland (66) three back.
“I think you have to play smart golf. You have to play away from the pin around here,” Smith said. “I think a lot of sandbelt golfers like that, using slopes to your advantage, sometimes having a big curling putt is your best option. And I think the Aussies will do good this week as it gets firmer and faster.”
Calm conditions following some overnight rain at the Old Course created much easier scoring for the morning groups, which had struggled to go low during Thursday’s afternoon wave.
Dustin Johnson was the first to reach 9 under par, a number that stood throughout the morning as the clubhouse lead. Johnson recovered from a three-putt bogey on the first hole to make six birdies and shoot a 5-under 67.
World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler (68) and England’s Tyrrell Hatton (66) moved into a tie at 8 under. Australian Adam Scott, who turns 42 Saturday, fired a bogey-free 65 early to vault to 7 under; he was tied for eighth with Patrick Cantlay (67), Sahith Theegala (68) and Talor Gooch (69).
Young, the first-round leader, rebounded from an early bogey by chipping in for birdie at the par-4 fourth. Making his Open debut, the PGA Tour rookie countered two bogeys with five birdies — including a 14-footer at No. 18 — to position himself at 11 under.
“(St. Andrews is) obviously a special place for golfers, especially competitive golfers playing one of our greatest championships on one of our oldest, greatest golf courses is a lot of fun,” Young said. “But I’ll be head down, trying to just do my job the next few days.”
McIlroy, on the hunt for his first major title since 2014 and his fifth overall, got hot in the middle of his round with three birdies at Nos. 10-12. His 23-foot birdie at the 17th, the “Road Hole,” got him back to 10 under.
“I’m picking holes in everything and walking off thinking I could have been a couple better, but I’m in a great position going into the weekend,” McIlroy said, per Sky Sports.
Hovland shot up the leaderboard late in the day with an unexpected eagle at the par-4 15th. He missed the fairway left but holed out from the rough with a perfectly-placed iron shot. He birdied No. 18 to tie McIlroy.
Scheffler posted his second straight 68 thanks in part to three consecutive birdies at Nos. 10-12. The Masters champion is vying to join Woods and Nick Faldo as the only men to win at Augusta National and St. Andrews in the same year.
The top 70 golfers and ties made the cut of even par or better. Tiger Woods was not among them.
Woods shot a 3-over 75 Friday to drop to 9 over for the championship, missing the cut at The Open for only the fourth time in his career. He made just one birdie Friday and lipped out a birdie try for a would-be memorable moment at the 18th green.
Woods received an ovation at No. 18, and though he didn’t pause on Swilcan Bridge, he saluted the fans and admitted after the round that it may have been his last Open at St. Andrews.
“I understand what Jack (Nicklaus) and Arnold (Palmer) had gone through in the past,” Woods said. “I was kind of feeling that way there at the end. And just the collective warmth and understanding.
“It felt very emotional, just because I just don’t know what my health is going to be like. And I feel like I will be able to play future British Opens, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to play that long enough — that when it comes back around here, will I still be playing?”
Phil Mickelson followed an even-par first round with a 5-over 77 Friday. After skipping the Masters and PGA Championship earlier this year in the wake of his comments about LIV Golf, Mickelson failed to make the cut at either the U.S. Open or The Open.
Also missing the cut were defending champion Collin Morikawa (1 over through two rounds), South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen (1 over) and Brooks Koepka (4 over).
–Field Level Media
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