Cameron Smith chased a day-one 67 with a bogey-free 64 on Friday and will enter the weekend in St Andrews, Scotland with a two-shot lead at the 150th Open Championship.
The 28-year-old Aussie got off to a terrific start with three straight birdies out of the gate; then added three more gains in a four-hole span around the turn (Nos. 7, 8 and 10) to take the lead at the time on 11 under. Smith padded his lead with a lengthy eagle putt on the par-5 14th hole to finish on 13-under 131.
“It’s obviously a really good spot to be in,” said Smith, who played in the final pairing of the 2022 Masters. “I feel like I’ve been in this spot a lot over the past couple of years, and things just haven’t quite gone my way yet.”
Overnight leader, Cameron Young signed for a 69 and was alone in second on 11-under par.
“I didn’t putt as well today,” said Young. “I think for the most part I managed it pretty well. I made a couple of greedy mistakes on 2 and on 15 were my only bogeys.
“Those I think were both very avoidable. I didn’t quite pick the right shots. One of them I just chunked, and one of them I picked the wrong shot, which I think I could have avoided.”
“But mostly pretty good. I can’t complain.”
Young will be paired with Smith in Saturday’s final game.
One further back was the high-octane duo of Rory McIlroy (68) and Viktor Hovland (66), who were tied for third on 10-under par. The 2021 Ryder cup teammates will be grouped together in Saturday’s second to last game.
Dustin Johnson rounded out the top-5 leaders on the big yellow boards at the Old Course. He was 9-under par following a 5-under 67, highlighted by three birdies on his final five holes.
“I thought I played really nicely, just drove it well, hit a lot of quality iron shots, gave myself a lot of looks at birdie,” said Johnson.
“And just really solid day. Never really got out of position. Other than missed a few short ones for birdie, but other than that, felt like I putted well and rolled it good.”
Johnson will be grouped with world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler (68) who sits T6 alongside Englishman Tyrrell Hatton (66).
The 2022 Open Championship
Top-10 Leaders: Round 2
Pos-Player-To Par (Rd 2)
1. Cameron Smith -13 (-8)
2. Cameron Young -11 (-3)
3. Viktor Hovland -10 (-6)
3. Rory McIlroy -10 (-4)
5. Dustin Johnson -9 (-5)
6. Tyrrell Hatton -8 (-6)
6. Scottie Scheffler -8 (-4)
8. Adam Scott -7 (-7)
8. Patrick Cantlay -7 (-5)
8. Talor Gooch -7 (-3)
Saturday’s Final Games
All Times – EST
10:15a: Patrick Cantlay, Adam Scott
10:25a: Talor Gooch, Tyrrell Hatton
10:35a: Scottie Scheffler, Dustin Johnson
10:45a: Viktor Hovland, Rory McIlroy
10:55a: Cameron Young, Cameron Smith
Latest Odds To Win
1. Cameron Smith (+185)
2. Rory McIlroy (+400)
3. Cameron Young (+800)
4. Viktor Hovland (+900
5. Dustin Johnson (+1000)
5. Scottie Scheffler (+1000)