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2022 British Open leaderboard breakdown: Cameron Smith rockets to top as Rory McIlroy stays hot in Round 2
There's a new leader at the 150th Open Championship, and it's a familiar face whose been on top plenty this season
The second round of the 150th Open Championship featured a little bit of everything on Friday. It began with fansas the 15-time major winner's playing career at St. Andrews may have come to a close with a missed cut this week. Walking down the 18th fairway to a standing ovation, tears rolled from Woods' eyes as he thought back on his crowning achievements at the Home of Golf and of the previous legends of the game to receive a similarly warm goodbye from the people of St. Andrews.
Fans again rose to their feet hours later, albeit for a different reason, as Cameron Smith signed an 8-under 64 to set the 36-hole scoring record for an Open at the Old Course. Sitting at 13 under for the championship, the long-haired Australian looks to be in complete control of his game as he has racked up 12 birdies and an eagle against just a single bogey through his first two rounds.
And then you have Rory McIlroy, who while still looking for his first major championship since 2014, put himself in exceptionally strong position at this Open. McIlroy remained hot playing in one of the final pairings of the day and now sits just three strokes back of Smith entering Moving Day.
Five of the last six 36-hole leaders at The Open have gone on to win, and Smith should give a fine effort over the weekend in continuing this trend. Meanwhile, each of the last seven Open winners at St. Andrews have been T4 or better after two rounds with 14 of the last 15 sitting within three shots of the lead after 36 holes.
Here is the breakdown of the rest of the leaderboard at the 150th Open.
1. Cameron Smith (-13): How do you back up a 5-under 67 at St. Andrews? Well, by carding an 8-under 64 the following day and setting the 36-hole scoring record for an Open at the Old Course. Smith has been unbelievable through the first two rounds, and his touch both on and around the green is proving to be a serious difference maker. For a player who has done a bulk of his major championship damage solely at Augusta National, Smith has taken exactly what works at the Masters and implemented it in this year's Open.
"I think I've always been a pretty good player in tough conditions," said Smith. "I think most Aussies are, for some reason. I think we're all brought up to be smart golfers, hit away from the pin sometimes. And that really serves us well, I think, in big tournaments and when the conditions get tough."
2. Cameron Young (-11): The Open debutant began his second round with a bit of nerves as he made bogey on his second hole of the day. Sleeping on the lead after firing an 8-under 64 on Thursday, it was to be expected that Young would show some tightness. He quickly shed whatever uneasiness he may have had and continued to march forward on Friday with a round of 3-under 69. Young has been hovering on the leaderboard for most of 2022 and a breakthrough always seemed imminent. While most would have pointed to a regular PGA Tour event for this moment, perhaps his play at the PGA Championship should have led us to this instead.
"I'm in second, rather be in second than 10th," said an unenthused Young. "You're going to have to play some good golf over the weekend regardless. So, obviously nice to start up there, at least."
T3. Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland (-10): There is a bit of a Spiderman meme going on with these two as Hovland reminds me of a young McIlroy to an extent. Playing freely with a wide grin and almost too innocent or oblivious to the danger around every corner, Hovland has played himself into major championship contention for the first time in his career. Yet, in order to succeed, the two will need to swap places as Hovland could use a bit more patience and discipline and McIlroy a bit more freedom. If they are to effectively do this, both players have the firepower to catch the Camerons in front of them and head into the final 18 holes with the lead.
5. Dustin Johnson (-9): The two-time major winner has been steady through his opening 36 holes, and as a result, he will head into the weekend with a chance to grab his third major title. While Johnson is not on the television often these days, he did come into The Open having sandwiched a top-25 finish with two top-10 finishes at LIV Golf evens. He has often thrived at the Old Course, and this week appears no different. The 18-hole and 36-hole leader at the 2015 Open, Johnson closed with back-to-back rounds of 75. He will hope for a massive improvement this weekend.
"I really like the golf course," Johnson said. "I like when it plays firm and fast like this. You've got to really think your way around it, kind of on every shot -- where you're trying to pitch it, where you want your ball to stop. Obviously, sometimes it's very hard to do. I feel like I've done a really good job with that the first couple days. Want to do a little bit more of it over the weekend."
T6. Scottie Scheffler and Tyrrell Hatton (-8): Just like the U.S. Open, the world No. 1 arrived at St. Andrews flying a smidge under the radar. Missing the cut in his last start at the Scottish Open, Scheffler has returned to his normal self after carding back-to-back rounds of 68. He will begin the weekend five strokes off Smith's lead but has proven to be comfortable coming back from a significant margin as his victories at the Phoenix Open and Arnold Palmer Invitational featured weekend runs.
"Overall [I'm] just staying in position. I think this morning I did a good job of kind of managing my swing," Scheffler said. "I was not swinging well at all my first six or seven holes, but I stayed out of trouble and made some good pars. After that, kind of once we made the turn, I made a good swing on nine, and after that I hit most of my shots close to how I wanted to. I'm pretty happy with how I played."
T8. Patrick Cantlay, Adam Scott, Talor Gooch and Sahith Theegala (-7): The reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year has been a fixture on leaderboards this season yet remains without a solo victory. Raising a trophy alongside Xander Schauffele at the Zurich Classic, Cantlay also boasts six top-five finishes in 2022, including last week at the Scottish Open. Despite his consistency, there are those critical of Cantlay as he has yet to match his talent level to production in major championships. This week will mark his best chance to date to capture one of the four big ones as he came in with a bit of momentum having finished inside the top 15 at the U.S. Open and is within reach of the lead.
T12. Matt Fitzpatrick and five others (-6): The U.S. Open champion's best Open finish is a tie for 20th, but you wouldn't know that based on his play in the second round at the Old Course. Alongside Woods on an emotional day in golf, Fitzpatrick held steady and signed for a 6-under 66 to catapult himself into contention. If the Englishman can somehow pull this off, he would join Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson and Woods as players to complete the U.S. Open-Open double in the same year.
"I feel different," said Fitzpatrick about being a major champion. "I can compete, and I can win. It's definitely been a positive. It doesn't hold me back. It's not something I'm nervous about. I've got to show myself a bit more. Yeah, it's just given me that extra confidence, I guess."
T18. Xander Schauffele and five others (-5): The hottest man in golf came to St. Andrews having won his last two starts and was well-positioned after opening with a 3-under 69. Schauffele made birdie on two of his first five holes on Friday and looked as if he could put his stamp on this championship. Instead, dropped shots on the easy par-4 ninth and par-4 12th squandered any momentum as he finished with a round of 2-under 70.
T24. Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Will Zalatoris and eight others (-4): Nine strokes over the course of 36 holes may be too much to overcome, but we have seen crazier things happen in majors -- just look back to the PGA Championship. These players will need to be flawless, and someone like Spieth must be kicking himself given how he finished his second round. Having gotten to 5 under for the championship after turning in 4-under 32, the 2017 Champion Golfer of the Year had a legitimate chance to find 7 under with short birdie efforts on Nos. 10 and 12. Letting those opportunities run by, Spieth played his final six holes in 1 over and possibly out of this championship.
Have you spotted these reusable water bottles at #The150thOpen? Buy one from The Open Shop and a percentage goes towards Priceless Planet Coalition.— The Open (@TheOpen) July 15, 2022
Just £1.50 plants a tree. Donate now at https://t.co/hFs5Z5P4XN. @Mastercard will match your donation. T&Cs apply. pic.twitter.com/vRUUr2pb5r
Rory's 3 at 17 tonight was a real moment. Crowd going absolutely bananas, chanting "Rory! Rory! Rory!" as he tried to close 3-3 to get within two. It was awesome. They're desperate for him to close out the Old this weekend.— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) July 15, 2022
Completely loaded board. Next two days should rock.
With Tiger Woods missing the cut, it's official: All four past champions at St. Andrews who were in this year's field will not make the cut. That's Zach Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen, Tiger and John Daly, all out for the weekend.
14 of the last 15 Open Champions at St Andrews were at or within 3 shots of the lead through 36 holes.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) July 15, 2022
Each of the last 7 Open winners here have been T-4 or better after 2 rounds. Will that continue this week?
Rory McIlroy gives one away, still in striking distance
Rory misses a big opportunity to finish birdie-birdie with a par at No. 18, which played as the second-easiest hole on the day, but he's still going to be in contention as we head to Moving Day. Stellar day from him all around as he finishes with a 4-under 68, moving him to 10 under through two rounds. Likely will be in the second-to-last pairing on Saturday.
Last two times Rory McIlroy was -10 or better through two rounds of a major championship:— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) July 15, 2022
2011 U.S. Open (Won)
2014 Open Championship (Won)
Big-time birdie for McIlroy
The approach shot on No. 17 may be the one we look back at if McIlroy is to snag this one. Catching a jumper from the fescue, McIlroy pleaded for his ball to sit and it did exactly that as it landed into a severe slope on the green. Settling with birdie range, he converted and returned to 10 under.
Entering this week, Viktor Hovland had never been inside the top-15 on the leaderboard through 36 holes of a major championship. Currently T-3.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) July 15, 2022
Hov!— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) July 15, 2022
Looking to tomorrow
It will be interesting to see how Rory McIlroy finishes his second round as he has dropped to 9 under for the championship. The final pairing could be the two Camerons which would put McIlroy with Dustin Johnson in a heavy-hitting penultimate group. Viktor Hovland may have a say in this matter as well as he just holed out for eagle on the par-4 15th to also reach 9 under.
Reigning Champion Golfer of the Year fighting
Collin Morikawa has made birdie on the par-5 14th to reach 2 over for the championship. The current projected cutline is even par and Morikawa will need to find a par breaker in the next few holes in addition to the par-4 18th if he is to see the weekend.
Rory McIlroy: -10 through 30 holes this week, tying his best opening 30-hole score to par ever in a major (2011 U.S. Open, won by 8 shots)— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) July 15, 2022
Rory McIlroy making a charge
Cameron Smith's 8-under 64 today set a high -- very, very high! -- bar, but goodness gracious Rory McIlroy is attacking the Old Course with fervor right now. He just drained his third consecutive birdie to move to 4 under on the round headed to No. 13.
Koepka streak to end after missed cut
With a 3-over 75 in Round 2, Brooks Koepka (+4 for the week) is set to miss his first cut at the Open Championship since his debut in 2013. It snaps a streak of eight consecutive years with at least one top-10 finish in a major.