The second round of the 150th Open Championship featured a little bit of everything on Friday. It began with fans sending Tiger Woods off in the grandest of fashions as 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.
Rick Gehman is joined by Mark Immelman to recap Friday’s action at the 2022 Open Championship. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.