The USA’s Brandt Snedeker carded a superb six under par 64 to claim a slender one shot lead at the half-way stage of the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
The 31 year-old from Nashville, Tennessee, goes into the weekend on ten under par 130 and with a share of the Championship’s 36-hole aggregate record which was set by three-time champion, Nick Faldo, at Muirfield back in 1992.
The American finds himself one shot in front of first round pacesetter Adam Scott, who birdied the last for a 67 and a 36-hole aggregate of 131, and is four shots ahead of the ominous figure of Tiger Woods who holed a bunker shot at the last for a second successive 67 and now has a very real chance of adding to his existing haul of 14 Major titles.
Wood is one clear of Dane, Thorbjorn Olesen, who added a 66 to his opening 70, and the former World No. 1 is by no means the only former Major champion to be challenging for the £900,000 first place prize as the action hots up at Lytham.
1999 Open champion, Paul Lawrie, and 2010 US Open winner, Graeme McDowell, share fourth place on four under par 136 alongside South African, Thomas Aitken, and in-form Americans, Matt Kuchar and Jason Dufner, while veteran former Open and US Open champion, Ernie Els, is also in the mix after a level par 70 left him in 10th place on three under par 137.
At the other end of the leaderboard five-time Open champion, Tom Watson, holed a long putt across the final green to make the cut on 143 alongside a large group of golfers including Lee Westwood, Rickie Fowler, K.J. Choi and John Daly. However, defending champion, Darren Clarke, bade an ignominious farewell to the Championship he won in such style 12 months ago.
The 43 year-old from Portrush, Northern Ireland, had opened with a 76 and though he improved on that total by five shots with a second round 71 he still missed the cut by four shots.
Former Masters champion, Phil Mickelson, was another of the sizeable number of big name players who failed to make it into the top-70 and ties. The 42 year-old American left-hander had requested a late invite to play in last week’s Aberdeen Asset Scottish Open Championship at Castle Stuart but all his extra preparation proved to be in vain when he added a calamitous 78 to his opening 73.
Among the other well-known players who missed out on the weekend were Justin Rose (74-70-144), Sergio Garcia (72-72-144), Charl Schwartzel (69-75-144) David Duval (74-71-145), Tom Lehman (73-72-145), Sandy Lyle (74-72-146), Martin Kaymer (77-69-146), Todd Hamilton (72-74-146), Justin Leonard (75-73-148), Ben Curtis (75-74-149), Trevor Immelman (74-75-149), Davis Love (71-79-150), Paul Casey (72-79-151) and Angel Cabrera (71-81-152).
For the first time since 2003 the Silver Medal will not be awarded to the leading amateur because both Amateur champion, Alan Dunbar, and European Amateur champion, Manuel Trappel, also missed the cut.
Dunbar battled manfully with rounds of 75 and 71 but the Austrian fell away badly with second round 13 over par 83.