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Cameron Smith leads the way at St Andrews

Cameron Smith leads the way at St Andrews

Cameron Smith leads The 150th Open Championship by two shots at the halfway stage after posting a sparkling 64 on Friday.


On a day of low scoring at the Old Course, the World Number Six carded a stunning eagle and six birdies to head into the weekend on 13 under par and shoot the lowest 36-hole total seen at a St Andrews Open.

He kept the bogeys off his card with two sensational saves at the 16th and 17th and instead of going for the 18th green in one, Smith took the conservative option and made another par there to ensure he was the man to catch after two days.

Smith, who is searching for his maiden Major Championship victory this week, will face stiff competition on Saturday and Sunday, with some of the world's best players close behind him on a stacked leaderboard.

American Cameron Young was the nearest challenger, a shot clear of four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy and Norway's Viktor Hovland, with Dustin Johnson then at nine under, one ahead of World Number One Scottie Scheffler and two-time winner at St Andrews Tyrrell Hatton.

Smith treated the crowds to a putting masterclass in the early stages of his second round, holing from 47 feet on the first green before rolling in his birdie attempts at the second and third for a hat-trick of gains.

He pulled off a brilliant par save at the fifth before picking up two more birdies at the seventh and eighth.

The Australian opened his back nine with a two-putt birdie at the tenth before curling in his eagle putt from 64 feet on the 14th green to jump to 13 under par.

He made a pair of tremendous par saves at the 16th and 17th to keep his card clean before closing his round with another par on the last after opting not to go for the green with his tee-shot.

"I obviously got off to a really hot start," said Smith. "And it's very easy to just keep going, getting on the front foot and maybe try to hit some shots that are a little bit too aggressive.

"But I just stayed patient and holed some really nice putts."

Speaking about the challenge that lies ahead of him this weekend, Smith added: "It should be good. I think being off late again tomorrow afternoon it's obviously going to be a bit firmer, more like the first day, I would say.

"So I would say it's going to be pretty brutal out there.

"I think there's going to be a few more gnarly pins, and I think being smart out there is definitely going to be the key to staying at the top of the leaderboard.

"I think I'll probably try and stay up as much as I can tonight. I think I'm going to be a little bit tired.

"Just trying to have a really big sleep in. I'm not going to try to do anything for the morning. Sleep in, get on the bike, get the legs moving and get prepared as I normally would every other day."

Young had fired a 64 on day one and he followed that with a 69 as he made five birdies and two bogeys.

McIlroy made a two-putt birdie on the fifth and put an approach to six feet at the seventh and, while he dropped a shot on the next, a hat-trick of gains after driving the tenth and 12th and putting a tee-shot to 16 feet at the 11th sent him flying up the leaderboard.

A poor tee-shot brought a bogey on the 15th but he birdied the treacherous Road Hole to get back into double figures with a 68.

Hovland was making impressive progress with birdies on the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth but he was back in the pack after bogeys on the 11th and 13th.

He got up and down for a birdie on the par-five 14th and then produced maybe the shot of the day as he holed from the rough from 139 yards at the 15th for an eagle before getting up and down again on the last for a 66.

Hatton also carded a 66, two shots better than Scheffler, with a group of four players then at seven under.

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