Cameron Smith says ego and impatience are the only obstacles in his pursuit of golf’s holy grail after surging into the Open Championship lead with the lowest ever 36-hole score in a Major at St Andrews.

The Australian skyrocketed up the Open’s famous gold leaderboards courtesy of a long-range putting clinic at the Old Course, firing a bogey-free second round of eight-under-par 64 to take control of golf’s oldest Major at the halfway mark. It was a cracking day for Australians with seven making the cut and four of those in the top 12 on the leaderboard.

Smith’s 131 (13 under) is the lowest ever 36-hole total. In 29 previous Opens at St Andrews, the previous record was 132, which Louis Oosthuizen most recently recorded during his 2010 Open triumph at the Home of Golf.

Cameron Young (69) was second at 11 under and will play in the final group with Smith, while four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy (68) and Viktor Hovland (66) were third at 10 under, while two-time Major champion Dustin Johnson (67) was nine under.

World No.6 Smith was draining unfathomably long putts on the Old Course’s tricky greens on Friday. He sank a 47-foot birdie on the par-4 first, then a 29-foot for birdie on the par-3 eighth. After a 396-yard drive on the par-4 10th he two-putted for birdie from 87 feet. The highlight of his round, which featured six birdies in all, was a 64-foot eagle putt he made on the par-5 14th that was set up by a 295-yard second shot.

Smith knows patience will be essential if he wants to survive a predicted “brutal” weekend and break through the Major championship barrier at golf’s sacred home. Problem is, Smith admits to being impatient and disappointments at the Majors in recent years certainly don’t help.

“(Leading the Open) is obviously a really good spot to be in (but) 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,” said Smith, who threatened to win the Masters in April only to fade to a third place. He also finished second at Augusta National in 2020. His best finish at the Open Championship is a tie for 20th (2019).

“I’ve got to be really patient over the weekend … but I’m a really impatient person. Everyone that knows me hates me for it (laughs). So I have to try my best out there to be really patient, with the pace of play, and with the golf course as well.

“Being off late again in the afternoon (in round three), it’s going to be firmer. It’s going to be pretty brutal out there. I think there’s going to be a few gnarly pin (positions). Being smart is going to be the key to staying at the top of the leaderboard.”

Smith hits his tee shot at the 18th in round two. Picture: Getty

Smith said hitting away from some pins would be crucial to hanging on to the lead. That won’t be easy given the five-time PGA Tour winner is an aggressive player. Firing at flags worked when he stiffed his tee shot at the par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass during his epic Players Championship win in March, but it failed when he took dead aim at the flag at Augusta National’s par-3 12th and rinsed his ball en route to a triple-bogey.

“I think sometimes a really good shot around here is 60, 70 feet,” he said. “I think that’s the challenge because we’re used to hitting it straight at the pin. That’s most of golf now. Having to hit shots away from the pin sometimes hurts the ego … but it’s just what you have to do (at St Andrews).”

Adam Scott was next best of the Australians at seven under after a sensational 65. The 2013 Masters winner was four over through his first six holes of the Open but has remarkable bagged 11 birdies and no bogeys in his last 30 holes.

“I (have) to get into double digits under par to even have a chance,” Scott said. “I’m probably going to be a fair way back at the end of today, I’d think. But I’m on my way. So it’s kind of (time to) attack, if you can do that around here.”

Min Woo Lee’s second consecutive 69 put him at six under, tied with fellow Australian Lucas Herbert (68). Brad Kennedy (72) was four under while Anthony Quayle was one under. Jason Scrivener (71) was one under.

Matt Griffin, Marc Leishman, Dimi Papadatos and Jed Morgan all missed the even-par cut.