British Open 2022 leaderboard breakdown: Cameron Smith rockets to the top as Rory McIlroy stays hot in Round 2

The second round of the 150th Open Championship on Friday offered a bit of everything. It started with fans Sending Tiger Woods off in the greatest way as the 15-time Major winner’s playing career may have ended in a missed cut at St Andrews this week. Walking down the 18th fairway to a standing ovation, tears rolled from Wood’s eyes as he thought back to his crowning achievements at the Home of Golf and the game’s past legends to receive a similarly heartfelt farewell from the people of St Andrews .

Hours later, fans rose again, albeit for a different reason, when Cameron Smith signed an 8-under-64 to set the 36-hole scoring record for an Open at the Old Course. The long-haired Aussie, who sits at 13-under for the championship, appears to be in complete control of his game, having amassed 12 birdies and an eagle against just a single bogey in his first two rounds.

And then you have Rory McIlroy, who has put himself in an exceptionally strong position at this Open while still searching for his first major title since 2014. McIlroy continued to play hot in one of the final pairings of the day and now sits just three shots behind Smith, who is competing on Moving Day.

Five of the last six 36-hole leaders at The Open have won and Smith should be looking to continue that trend over the weekend. Meanwhile, each of the last seven Open winners at St Andrews has been T4 or better after two rounds, with 14 of the last 15 sitting within three strokes of the lead after 36 holes.

Here’s the breakdown of the rest of the 150th Open rankings.

1. Cameron Smith (-13): How do you support a 5 under 67 year old in St Andrews? Well, by carding an 8-under-64 the next day and setting the 36-hole scoring record for an Open at the Old Course. Smith was incredible on the first two laps and his touch both on and around the green is proving to be a serious difference maker. For a player who did much of his major championship damage solely at Augusta National, Smith took exactly what worked at Masters and implemented it at this year’s Open.

“I think I’ve always been a pretty good player in difficult conditions,” said Smith. “I think most Aussies are for some reason. I think we were all raised to be smart golfers who sometimes tee off the pin. And that really benefits us, I think, in big tournaments and when the conditions get tough.”

2. Cameron Young (-11): The Open debutant started his second round with a little nervousness when he bogeyed on his second hole of the day. As he slept on the leash Thursday after an 8-under 64 shot, it was to be expected that Young would show some tension. He quickly shed any uneasiness and marched further forward on Friday with a 3-under 69 round. Young floated on the leaderboard for most of 2022 and a breakthrough always seemed imminent. While most would have pointed to a regular PGA Tour event at this point, perhaps his play at the PGA Championship should have led us there instead.

“I’m second, better second than tenth,” said an unenthusiastic Young. “You still need to play good golf over the weekend. So obviously it’s nice to at least start there.”

T3. Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland (-10): There’s a bit of a Spiderman meme with these two as Hovland reminds me of a young McIlroy to some degree. Playing freely, with a big grin and almost too innocent or unaware of the danger around every corner, Hovland has played his way into a major championship fight for the first time in his career. To be successful, however, the two will have to swap places as Hovland could use a little more patience and discipline and McIlroy could use a little more freedom. If they are to do so effectively, both players will have the firepower to catch the Camerons in front and go into the final 18 holes with the lead.

5. Dustin Johnson (-9): The two-time Major winner was steady through his first 36 holes and as a result he will go into the weekend with a chance of claiming his third Major title. While Johnson is not often seen on television these days, he joined The Open after scoring a top 25 finish and two top 10 finishes at LIV Golf events. He’s had plenty of success on the Old Course and this week seems no different. 18-hole and 36-hole leader at the 2015 Open, Johnson finished with consecutive rounds of 75. He’s hoping for a massive improvement this weekend.

“I really like the golf course,” said Johnson. “I like it when it plays so tight and fast. You have to deal with it really well, pretty much every shot – where you’re trying to play it, where you want the ball to stop. Obviously, sometimes it’s very hard. I feel like I did a really good job with it for the first few days. I want to do a little more of this over the weekend.

T6. Scottie Scheffler and Tyrrell Hatton (-8): Just like at the US Open, the world No. 1 arrived at St Andrews flying under the radar a bit. Scheffler missed the cut in his most recent start at the Scottish Open, returning to his normal self after carding consecutive rounds of 68s. He will start the weekend five strokes behind Smith’s lead but has proven comfortable when coming back from a significant lead as his victories at the Phoenix Open and Arnold Palmer Invitational have included weekend runs.

“In total [I’m] just stay put. I think I managed my swing well this morning,” said Scheffler. “I didn’t swing well at all my first six or seven holes, but I stayed out of trouble and made some good pars. After that, once we made the turn, I made a good swing to a nine, and after that I hit most of my shots the way I wanted. 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 the leaderboards this season but remains without a solo win. Cantlay has won a trophy alongside Xander Schauffele at the Zurich Classic and also has six top five finishes in 2022, including last week’s Scottish Open. Despite his consistency, there are some who criticize Cantlay for not yet having to adjust his talent level to perform at major championships. This week is his best chance yet to conquer one of the Big Four as he came in with some momentum after finishing in the top 15 at the US Open and is within reach of the lead.

T12. Matt Fitzpatrick and five others (-6): The US Open champion’s best Open finish is a tie for 20th place, but you wouldn’t know that based on his second-round play at the Old Course. Alongside Woods, Fitzpatrick stood his ground on an emotional day in golf, signing a 6-under-66 to catapult himself into the contest. If the Englishman can somehow pull that off, he would complete the US Open-open doubles in the same year as a player along with Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson and Woods.

“I feel different,” Fitzpatrick said of being a great champion. “I can keep up and I can win. It was definitely positive. It doesn’t hold me back It’s nothing I’m nervous about. I need to show myself a little more. Yeah, it just gave me that extra confidence I think.”

T18. Xander Schauffele and five others (-5): The hottest man in golf came to St Andrews after winning his last two starts and was well positioned after the opener with a 3-under 69. Schauffele birdied two of his first five holes Friday and looked like he could finish his putt stamp on this championship. Instead, drop shots on the easy ninth par-4 and twelfth par-4 squandered all momentum as he ended on a 2-under 70 round.

T24. Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Will Zalatoris and eight others (-4): Nine shots in 36 holes might be too much to beat, but we’ve seen crazier things in majors – just look back at the PGA championship. Those players have to be flawless and someone like Spieth has to give himself a kick considering how he ended his second round. After hitting a 5-under for the championship after a 4-under 32, the 2017 Champion Golfer of the Year had a legitimate shot at finding 7-unders with short birdie attempts in 10th and 12th place. Spieth missed those opportunities and played his last six holes in 1 over and possibly out of that championship.

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