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LEADERBOARD -13 Smith; -11 Young; -10 McIlroy, Hovland; -9 Johnson; -8 Scheffler, Hatton. SELECTED OTHERS -6 Fitzpatrick; -5 Schauffele; -4 Rahm; -3 Law; E MacIntyre
The golf Gods continue to smile upon Cam Smith.
The Australian, roared on by a huge contingent of fans from Down Under, leads The 150th Open on 11-under after 36 holes, two clear of first round leader Cameron Young.
Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland are a further shot adrift with Dustin on nine-under and world No.1 Scottie Scheffler on eight-under alongside Tyrrell Hatton.
The stage truly is set for a memorable weekend in St Andrews, with 28-year-old Smith the man to catch at the midway stage.
“I think it’s just exciting to be leading The Open after a couple of days,” said the reigning PLAYERS champion and world No.6. “There are loads of Aussies in the crowd. I can’t wait for the next couple of days.
“It’s a really good spot to be in but I feel like I’ve been in this spot a lot over the last couple of years and things haven’t gone my way yet.”
The key to victory, Smith reckons, will be patience.
That’s not going to be easy at a championship where the pace of play has been widely criticised.
“I’m a really impatient person,” he added. “Everyone who knows me hates me for it.
“I had a really hot start [on Friday] and it’s really easy to keep going on the front foot and try to hit shots that are too aggressive. I’m having to try my best to be really patient.”
Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, is determined to spoil Smith’s party and finally end a major drought of his own that extends to almost eight years.
After a slow start on Friday, the Northern Irishman burst to life with three consecutive birdies from the turn. And though he handed a shot back at the par-4 15th, a 23-foot putt for birdie at the ‘Road Hole’ 17th provided one of the biggest cheers of the day.
It would have been better but for a squandered birdie chance at the last but he finds himself in great shape going into the weekend.
“I know I’ve got the game,” said McIlroy. “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. If Cam Smith goes out and shoots another two rounds like he did the first two days, I’m going to have a really hard time to win the tournament.
“So I’ve just got to go out and do the best I can and worry about myself and hopefully that’s good enough.”
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