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Friday, 20 July 2012
Brandt Snedeker  (Getty Images)
Brandt Snedeker (Getty Images)
For the past two decades Sir Nick Faldo has been alone in the Major record books for what he did at Muirfield in 1992 - but now he has company in the form of American Brandt Snedeker.

By adding a six under par 64 to his first round 66 in The Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes, the 31 year old from Nashville matched Faldo's 130 halfway total and established a one stroke lead over Australian Adam Scott heading into the weekend.

Tiger Woods is three strokes further back in third after dramatically holing a bunker shot on the last for a second successive 67, Thorbjorn Olesn four adrift after two late biirdies, while Paul Lawrie and Graeme McDowell also remained at the forefront of the European Tour challenge six behind as Rory McIlroy fell back.

Not even McIlroy in his runaway victory at last year's US Open achieved Faldo and Snedeker's score for the first two days, although he would have lowered the mark by one if he had parred rather than double-bogeyed the last of the 36 holes.

Although Snedeker is a three-time winner on the US PGA Tour, including one in a play-off against current World Number One Luke Donald, his Open record was - to put it frankly - abysmal before this week.

Three trips, three missed cuts and not a round under 70.

Yet on a Lancashire links softened by a "summer" of heavy rain he has yet to have a bogey, yet to visit any of the 206 bunkers and stands ten under par.

It could make him the tenth successive first-time winner in the Majors - not that he is getting ahead of himself.

"A great experience, but it gets you a whole lot of nothing," he said after turning in just 30 strokes and then picking up further strokes at the 598 yard 11th and 198 yard 12th.

"We've got 36 more holes to go - a lot can happen."

The closest Snedeker has come to Major glory so far was at the 2008 Masters Tournament. He was two behind with a round to go, but while playing partner Trevor Immelman stayed out in front he shot 77 and cried his heart out.

"I found out a lot about myself today," he said then, "so we'll keep working."

It is perhaps no surprise to see him playing so well with a full set of 14 clubs in his bag.

At the Volvo World Match Play in Spain in May he began against Thomas Björn with only ten borrowed ones because his own were delayed en route - and won the first three holes.

He admits he has been out enjoying "the local ales" once away from the course, but insists his one late night earlier in the week was "to get over the jet lag".

"It's funny I've never played good (until now) because I like being over here and having a good time with it," he said.

He came up with another good answer when told that there will be lots of British people asking: "Who's Brandt Snedeker?"

The World Number 29 said: "I'm sure there's lots of Americans saying that too."

Scott had gone from one in front to four behind by the time he resumed and in the circumstances a 67 was no mean performance.

"I didn't take on any unnecessary risks and kept the ball in play pretty well, so it was kind of stress-free," he said.

"Why I've played good this week is a culmination of everything I've done over the last couple of years.

"I feel like this is the path I've been going down and it just happens to have happened here that I've put myself in a good position after two days."

Woods said of his closing piece of drama: "It wasn't as hard as it may have looked. I just threw it up there, played about a cup outside the left and it landed on my spot and rolled to the right.

"Overall I'm very pleased at where I'm at - I'm right there in the mix."

Dane Thorbjørn Olesen, who grabbed his first European Tour win in April and qualified in a play-off, also birdied the last to move into fourth place on his own at five under.

McIlroy had been joint sixth with his opening 67, but found a lot of bunker trouble - many with water in them after yet more rain - as he stumbled to a 75. He is now 12 back.

Donald shot 68 to improve to two under, but third-ranked Lee Westwood only just made it through to the weekend on three over.

Alongside him is 62-year-old Tom Watson. Last year at Sandwich he became the oldest player to make the cut in The Open, so he has extended his own record.

Among those to miss the cut were Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, defending champion Darren Clarke, Phil Mickelson and the only two amateurs in the field, Northern Irishman Alan Dunbar and Austria's Manuel Trappel.

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