‘Impatient’ Cameron Smith sets Open pace with Rory McIlroy still in touch
For Cameron Smith, a record. No player had taken just 131 shots over two rounds of a St Andrews Open Championship until the man with golf’s most famous mullet pulled the Old Course apart.
Smith’s Friday 64 affords him a two-stroke lead at the halfway point of the year’s final major. Now for the hard part.
Should he prevail here, he would become the first Australian since Greg Norman to lift the Claret Jug. There would be a touch of poetry attached to that situation, given the R&A’s decision not to invite Norman to events for past champions early in tournament week.
As Norman’s position at the forefront of LIV Golf attracts controversy, Smith has emerged as his country’s most regular major challenger.
“I’m a really impatient person,” Smith said. “Everyone that knows me hates me for it. 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.
Having to hit shots away from the pin sometimes hurts the ego a little bit, but it’s just what you have to do around here.”
His eagle putt at the 14th, converted from 60ft, took him to minus 13 and gave him leaderboard breathing space.
Thoughts that Cameron Young may feel the heat on day two of his Open debut proved unfounded as he added a 69 to Thursday’s 64. Young will play alongside Smith in Saturday’s final group. “I’m just trying to keep things really simple,” said Young.
Rory McIlroy’s penchant is for the spectacular. This was a day when the Northern Irishman, seeking a fifth major win after almost eight years of trying, bounced back superbly from setbacks.
McIlroy sat two under for the day and eight under for the championship when taking to the 8th tee. A dropped shot at the par-three threatened to stall his momentum. Instead he birdied the 10th, 11th and 12th.
There was a knock again with a bogey on 15. McIlroy’s response was a magnificent iron from 190 yards and rough on the famously tough 17th.He converted from 15ft for a birdie.