Tiger Woods bid an emotional farewell to the St Andrews crowd after finishing on 9 over par
The Friday of an Open Championship is always fraught, as players close to the cut mark desperately scramble to ensure they’re around for the weekend’s play, but the second round at the 150th Open at St Andrews seemed especially emotionally charged. And all because, one man, albeit arguably the best player ever to grace the game, was long odds-on to miss the cut.
That Tiger Woods was even at St Andrews was a minor miracle, given that he almost had a leg amputated last February following a life-changing car crash, but even his most ardent fans harboured little hope that he could mount a serious challenge for a fourth Claret Jug. And so it proved, with the 46-year-old’s failing limbs making every step a painful one was he compiled rounds of 78 and 75 to miss the cut by nine shots.
After teeing off at the 18th, Woods’ playing partners, Matt Fitzpatrick and Max Homa, hung back to give the 15-time major champion the stage to himself, as the St Andrews crowd cheered and clapped their hero. Those expecting Woods to stop on the Swilcan Bridge and pose for a few photos were left disappointed, as he marched, albeit a little gingerly, over the iconic spot without breaking stride as he waved to the massed galleries. This clearly wasn’t going to be the time or the place for Tiger to say goodbye to major championship golf.
Cameron Young is still very much in the mix after adding a 69 to his opening 64
Although it was cleverly orchestrated by the R&A, the moment when Rory McIlroy touched the peak of his cap as a mark of respect to his long-time friend as they marched in different directions on the Old Course’s opening and closing holes, was clearly designed to highlight the changing on the guard in the golfing firmament.
A missed birdie putt from three feet at the last seemed to sum up Woods’ week, and, still muttering to himself about what might have been, he shook hands with his group, waved to the crowds and wandered off towards the scorer’s hut.
Back to the tournament in hand, Cameron Smith sits on top of the leaderboard at the end of day two, with a blistering second round 64, to add his first round 67, seeing the Australian at the head of affairs on 13 under par. He leads by two from first round leader Cameron Young, who added a 69 to his opening 64 to sit on 11 under.
Rory McIlroy is poised to mount his weekend challenge in third on 10 under, with Viktor Hovland and Dustin Johnson at nine under, one ahead Scottie Scheffler and Tyrrell Hatton.
With the early morning staters facing damp and drizzly, scoring conditions were far from ideal, with the greens noticeably slower than the previous day, but the rain soon gave way to sunshine, and the putts soon started to drop.
Adam Scott carded the lowest round of the morning with a bogey-free 65 lifting him into a group on seven under. Dustin Johnson shot a 67 in the morning gloom to set the initial pace on nine under. Tyrrell Hatton, who has won the Dunhill Links Championship at this venue, leapt into contention at eight under courtesy of a 66. He has the world No1, Scottie Scheffler, for scoreboard company after back-to-back 68s for the latter. Talor Gooch, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay and Sahith Theegala are seven under.
Rory McIlroy sits three shots off the lead after a second round 68
And as the afternoon turned into evening, McIlroy was at his battling best as the sun shone at its brightest. The momentum of birdies on the fifth and seventh holes were halted by a bogey on the eighth. But a run of three birdies from the 10th lifted him to 10 under, only to give one back on the 15th. But a superb 20-footer on the 17th saw him sign for a four-under 68. He was joined on 10 under by Hovland, who had a chip-in eagle two on the 15th in a 66.
“I’m picking holes in everything and walking off thinking I could have been a couple better, but I’m in a great position going into the weekend,” said McIlroy. “It is nice to be in the mix.”
However, when the sun came out mid-afternoon and the wind died away, Cameron Smith took advantage with five birdies in his opening eight holes. The world number six then holed a 64-foot eagle putt on the par-five 14th to move further clear.
“I feel like I’ve been in this spot a lot over the past couple of years, and things just haven’t quite gone my way yet,” said Smith, who is yet to win a major but has had four top-10 finishes in the past five Masters. “I’ve just got to be really patient over the weekend. The golf course is going to get a lot harder and a lot faster. So just be patient and make good putts.”
Young, who led overnight on eight under, was among those out in the later wave, and he birdied the last to complete a three-under 69 and finish on 11 under.
England’s Barclay Brown is the leading amateur after following his opening 68 with a 70 for a six-under total, three ahead of Italy’s Filippo Celli.
The cut mark came at level par, meaning defending champion Collin Morikawa, who ended on one over after a 73, was among a host of past major winners heading home early that also included Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen, Henrik Stenson and Padraig Harrington.
Harrington had been five under for the tournament after two second-round holes, but collapsed spectacularly with seven bogeys over the next 10 to miss the cut by three. John Daly, the Open champion of 1990, was in a decent position to survive for the weekend standing at level par with three to play, but closed with three consecutive bogeys to also make an early exit.
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