Smith’s miracle lap gives him two-stroke lead, but tears for Tiger, at British Open

Unfazed as ever and unstoppable, Cameron Smith embraces the tension and pressure after taking command of the 150th British Open with a second round for the ages.

Smith etched his name in the golf history books after signing for a nerveless, bogey-free, eight-under-par 64 to take a two-stroke lead on Friday.

The world number 6’s under-13 mid-round total broke the St Andrews Open 36-hole scoring record previously shared by Greg Norman, Nick Faldo and Louis Oosthuizen.

Smith, however, will have a glimpse of the sport’s biggest names – including Open favorite Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and inspired compatriot Adam Scott – to hunt him down in a shootout. enticing on weekends in the spiritual home of golf.

But after fueling hopes of a first Australian winner of the famous Claret Jug since Norman at Royal St George’s in 1993, Smith said he had never felt so ready to break through for his elusive first major.

“It’s just exciting to be on top of the Open after a few days,” he said.

“This experience tomorrow is going to be really cool. There are a lot of Australians in the crowd it seems. I had a lot of support the first few days and really can’t wait for the next ones.

“It’s obviously a really good place to be. I feel like I’ve been to this place a lot over the last couple of years, and things haven’t quite gone my way yet.

“I just have to be very patient over the weekend. I think the golf course is going to get a lot harder and a lot faster, so be patient and make some good putts.

As he did all day Friday.

The scrambling wizard mixed stately iron play with a masterful long-range two-putt series to amass six birdies and a roaring eagle three on the par-five 14 where he rolled into a curved 64-footer to place the field on to remark.

At that time, Smith threatened to equal the lowest round in men’s major history – Branden Grace’s 62 at the Royal Birkdale Open in 2017.

But even not missing the third 63 at St Andrews could erase Smith’s smile as the 28-year-old finished his magic round with a two-shot buffer over first-round USA leader Cameron Young (69).

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

Pre-Open favorite McIlroy (68) is a three-time tie for third with Viktor Hovland, who drilled for a spectacular eagle two on 15 to skip the standings with his round of 66.

Two-time major winner Johnson (67) is squarely fifth at nine under, with Scheffler (68) and England’s Tyrrell Hatton (66) another shot behind in a tie for sixth.

Scott was another shot behind at seven under after shooting himself the best Open round of his career, a birdie-filled, bogey-free 65 in the breathless morning conditions.

On a starred ranking, the American trio Patrick Cantlay (67), Talor Gooch (69) and Sahith Theegala (68) share eighth place with Scott.

Completing a momentous day for Australian golf, Min Woo Lee (69) and Lucas Herbert (68) also remained in contention at six under in a tie for 12th with English US Open champion Matthew Fitzpatrick (66) .

But it’s Smith everyone needs to catch as the Queenslander bids to become the first Australian since Norman won the Claret Jug, golf’s oldest and most prestigious championship, for the second time 29 years ago. year.

Worryingly for the chasing pack, Smith’s 67-64 start improved Oosthuizen’s 65-67 opener at the 2010 Open at golf’s home when the South African converted his under-12 aggregate to halfway into a memorable seven-stroke triumph on Nelson Mandela’s 92nd birthday.

Faldo won by five after also starting with 65-67 at St Andrews in 1990, Norman being relegated to a share of sixth after his first pair of 66s that year.

Meanwhile, an emotional Tiger Woods fought back tears as he emerged early from what would almost certainly be his last Open Championship at St Andrews. Winner of the Old Course in 2000 and 2005, Woods could only add a second lap. from 75 at his open 78 to finish nine over par and miss the cut at the Open for only the fourth time in his career.

As promised, Woods didn’t stop for commemorative photos as he crossed the Swilcan Bridge like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson had done when they last appeared at the Home of Golf.

But it was clearly an emotional moment for the three-time Open champion, who removed his cap to greet the applause and waved to the packed stands as spectators used any vantage point possible to see Woods play the 18 .

“It was very emotional for me,” Woods said.

“I’ve been coming here since 1995 and I don’t know when the next one will be – in what, 2030 – if I’ll be physically able to play by then.

“I felt like it might be my last British Open at St Andrews and the ovation and the warmth was an incredible feeling.

“They understand what golf is and what it takes to be an Open champion.

“I was lucky to have won here twice and it was very emotional just because I don’t know how my health will be.”

The earliest the Open could return to St Andrews is 2026, although 2027 is more likely given the previous tradition of holding it on the Old Course every five years.

“I definitely feel like I could play more British Open, but I don’t know if I’ll be there when it comes back here,” said the 46-year-old.

Woods made his return to the Masters in April, reached there over the weekend and finished 47th.

At the PGA Championship the following month, he made the cut but withdrew after the third round due to persistent leg and foot pain.

Woods skipped the US Open so he could recover physically in time to play the 150th Open on the course he said was his favorite in the world.

But he made his only birdie of the day on the par-four third hole by draining a 28-foot putt.

Woods had a chance to go out with a fist pump with a short birdie try on the 18th green, but saw another putt go out and shook his head as he tapped into par before waving to the crowd.

Rory McIlroy headed for the first hole, parallel to the 18th, as Woods rolled up the final fairway, and the Northern Ireland star was seen giving his friend a piece of his cap.

“The warmth and the ovation at 18, it got to me,” Woods said.

“Just the walk. I felt the guys there quit there at 18. It was just amazing the amount of understanding and respect that goes into this event.

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