Cameron Smith is ready to attack the weekend of The Open Championship after a second-round surge moved him to T17 at Royal St George’s.
Overnight leader Louis Oosthuizen (-11) has a two-stroke lead after shooting a five-under 65 on Friday, followed closely by 2020 PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa (-9) and the 2017 Open champion Jordan Spieth (-8).
It was a historic day for the South African who broke the 36-hole scoring record at The Open with a 64-65 start.
The record, and the lead, was set up by a scintillating birdie-birdie-eagle run on 12, 13 and 14 and the 2010 Open champion acknowledged was humbled to achieve such a feat.
“Yeah, to have any record at the Open or part of any record at the Open is always very special,” Oosthuizen said.
“I probably played a bit better yesterday in the conditions we were playing in, but today we got really – I would say lucky sort of the last nine holes. It was as good a weather as you can get playing this golf course.
“All of us took advantage of that. I think in our three-ball we had a 64 and two 65s, which you don’t really see around a links golf course.”
While the afternoon was Oosthuizen’s, the morning belonged to Morikawa.
The American threatened to equal the Royal St George’s course record (63) as four birdies from 8 through 12 propelled him to the lead in his first appearance at The Open.
Par on 18 meant he had to settle for a six-under round of 64, but the world number four is not too phased by numbers.
“I did not know 63 was the low out here. I just kind of came out and played golf,” Morikawa said.
“For me, hopefully we can just create memories and create lifetime memories that hopefully Sunday comes along and we can talk again.”
Argentine Emiliano Grillo (-6) also threatened the course record as he birdied five of the last seven holes to match Morikawa’s 64.
“I think I’ll take 64 for any round in a major. I think I’ll take 64 any day even playing with my friends,” Grillo said.
Smith (-4) enjoyed the opportunity to play in the morning, as he spent less time in the rough and more time capitalising on birdie chances.
The Queenslander had a shaky start with a birdie at 2 in between bogeys at 1 and 3.
However, he quickly settled and back-to-back birdies on 8 and 9 gave him momentum heading into the back-nine.
Despite bogeys at 15 and 18, birdies at 11, 14, 16 and 17 made sure that the Australian number one has the leaders within reach.
“It was a bit the same I guess as yesterday. Bit of a rusty start. Couple bogeys there at the start. Just hung in there,” Smith said.
“That wind for me, every time I get that left wind I seem to miss the fairway or put myself out of position. Something I have to work on.
“No, it was really solid. Lots of good iron shots today. Couple of close ones which was nice to see. Obviously the putter was pretty decent as well.”
Birthday boy Adam Scott was the only other Australian to make the cut after his bogey-free round.
The 2013 Masters champion began the day at 3-over par, but quickly found himself above the cut line with birdies on 4, 6 and 7 before knocking in a long birdie putt at 17 turned the number next to his name red.
“I just played better today. I didn’t execute [yesterday]. I had the same game plan,” Scott said.
“I basically hit the same clubs off all the tees today, but it was a strong 20 mile an hour wind yesterday and I was a little bit off so I looked pretty average.
“You know, today was much easier wind and I was swinging a little better. Once you hit a few fairways the confidence comes and frees you up.
“You know, it’s that kind of course. It can – you can look like a champion when you knock it straight down the middle with driver and look like a fool when you’re laying up in the rough with a 5-iron.”
Marc Leishman (+2) made three back-nine birdies while putting with a wedge in a last-ditch effort to make the weekend, but he ultimately finished one shot below the cut line.
Irish Open champion Lucas Herbert (+3) found himself behind the eight-ball early in the afternoon with bogeys on 2 and 3 and he did not recover.
Scottish Open champion Min Woo Lee’s afternoon round was highlighted by an eagle at the par-5 7th, but his Open debut ended at three-over par.
Six other Australians also missed the cut.
Matt Jones (+3) and Jason Scrivener (+4) both carded three bogeys and two birdies to finish the second round one-over par.
Jason Day was in a difficult spot after a first round 75, and a double bogey on 1 and a bogey 2 left him with too much work to do.
Three-under on the back-nine clawed Day back to five-over for the tournament.
Brad Kennedy was in contention for the weekend as he began the day one-over par, but six bogeys in his round meant he finished alongside Day at five-over.
Open debutant Aaron Pike had four birdies, six bogeys and a triple-bogey on 2 in a round of five-over 75, while qualifier Deyen Lawson struggled early on his way to shooting 77.