The Open: Cameron Smith holds two-shot lead at St Andrews after second round with Rory McIlroy still in mix

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The Open: Cameron Smith holds two-shot lead at St Andrews after second round with Rory McIlroy still in mix
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Cameron Smith holds the Open lead at the halfway stage after a sensational second round moved the Australian two shots clear.

Six birdies came for Smith in his first ten holes, all facets of his game firing, before an eagle on the par-five 14th set up a round of 64 that leaves him on 13-under heading into the weekend at St Andrews. It’s a performance that has earned him the 36-hole scoring record for Open Championships at the Home of Golf, a shot better than Greg Norman, Nick Faldo and Louis Oosthuizen have managed in the past.

Many fancied Smith heading into the week. He already has two wins to his name in 2022, the Players and the Tournament of Champions, and the Australian is certainly used to competing on dry, baked golf courses.

“That was pretty cool out there,” Smith said. “A lot of things went right, but to do it here was awesome.”

He will be joined in the final group on Saturday by Cameron Young, who led after the first 18 holes and kept himself up with the pace with a round of 69 as he continues a superb first Open of his career.

Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland are a shot further back at ten-under in a share of third, with the Northern Irishman still right in the hunt for a first major title for eight years. He had a slow start to his round but came home in 33 to keep himself within three shots of the lead.

“I played well coming in, stuck to my game plan well,” McIlroy said. “I’m picking holes and walking off thinking I could have been a couple better, but I am in a great position going into the weekend.”

His playing partner Xander Schauffele, the most in-form man in golf after recent victories on both sides of the Atlantic, had an up-and-down Friday and sits just inside the top 20 on five-under.

With morning rain falling on the Old Course and softening up the layout, many in the early wave of starters moved their way nicely through the field. Adam Scott’s 65 took him to seven-under, joined on that score by Patrick Cantlay, while US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick is among those one shot further back.

Jon Rahm and Jordan Spieth both have work to do, nine shots off the lead, while Collin Morikawa’s defence of the Claret Jug did not make it into the weekend as he failed to make the cut.

So too did Tiger Woods, who was given an incredible reception walking down the 18th fairway that resulted in a outpouring of emotion rarely seen from the 15-time major champion. He admitted after the round that he may not get the opportunity to play at St Andrews again.

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