The Open day three: Cameron Smith braced for ‘brutal’ conditions at St Andrews

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Open leader Cameron Smith is expecting “brutal” conditions on Saturday but is confident he has the game to deal with them.

Smith carded a flawless 64 for a 13-under-par halfway total of 131, surpassing the previous best for an Open at St Andrews – set by Nick Faldo and Greg Norman in 1990 and matched by Louis Oosthuizen in 2010 – by a shot.

It gave the Australian a two-stroke lead over Cameron Young, with Rory McIlroy and his Ryder Cup team-mate Viktor Hovland one further back.

“I think being off late again 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,” said the 28-year-old.

“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’ve always been a pretty good player in tough conditions. 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.”

But he will have an in-form McIlroy, in the group ahead, trying to pile on the pressure.

The Northern Irishman, who followed his opening 66 with a 68, will not change his strategy but is confident he can make inroads into the three-shot deficit as he seeks to win his first major since 2014.

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy is within three of the lead (Richard Sellers/PA)

“I know I’ve got the game. That’s all I need. I just need to go out and play my game and play my golf over the next two days and that’s all I can do,” he said.

“If Cam Smith goes out and shoots another two rounds like he did the first two days I’m going to have a really hard time to win the tournament.

“So I’ve just got to go out and do the best I can and worry about myself and hopefully that’s good enough.”

Shot of the day

Norway’s Hovland was having a mixed back nine, which included two birdies, two bogeys and a par when he reached the 455-yard 16th. Having driven into the right rough he was faced with a 139-yard approach but landed it perfectly, took a couple of hops forward before rolling into the hole for an eagle two – the first at the 16th this week – which boosted him to nine under.

Round of the day

Cameron Smith – 64

Different day. Different Cameron. Same result. Smith birdied his first three holes, picked up three more around the turn and then holed from 60 feet for an eagle on the 14th to raise the prospect of equalling the lowest round in men’s major history, Branden Grace’s 62 at Royal Birkdale in 2017. That he had to settle for a 64, a score American Cameron Young had posted to take the first-round lead, after four successive pars coming home was no great disappointment as it gave him a two-stroke lead heading into the weekend.

Tweet of the day

Statistic of the day

The last two times Rory McIlroy was 10 under or better through two rounds of a major championship he won (2011 US Open and 2014 Open).

Toughest hole

Xander Schauffele blasts out of a bunker
The Old Course’s notorious Road Hole was the most difficult in Friday’s second round (Jane Barlow/PA)

The 495-yard par-four 17th played as the toughest hole, yielding just six birdies all day, with 42 bogeys, eight doubles and one triple-bogey, resulting in a scoring average of 4.35.

Easiest hole

The 570-yard par five fifth: There were four eagles, 74 birdies, just 13 bogeys and nothing worse, for a scoring average of 4.56.

Selected tee times

10.30am: Hideki Matsuyama, Bryson DeChambeau
11.15am: Justin Thomas, Jason Kokrak
1.45pm: Jordan Spieth, Thriston Lawrence
2.50pm: Min Woo Lee, Matt Fitzpatrick
3.35pm: Scottie Scheffler, Dustin Johnson
3.45pm: Rory McIlroy, Victor Hovland
3.55pm: Cameron Young, Cameron Smith

Forecast

Mostly sunny, cloud increasing late in the afternoon. Winds will be up to 10mph, with gusts between 15mph and 20mph in the afternoon.

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