Morning Chronicle - Aussie Smith surges into British Open lead as emotional Woods bows out

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Aussie Smith surges into British Open lead as emotional Woods bows out
Aussie Smith surges into British Open lead as emotional Woods bows out / Photo: Paul ELLIS - AFP

Aussie Smith surges into British Open lead as emotional Woods bows out

Australia's Cameron Smith seized the second-round lead in the 150th British Open at St Andrews on Friday as a superb 64 left him on 13 under par for the tournament, but an emotional Tiger Woods bowed out after his struggles continued on the Old Course.

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Smith, the world number six with the trademark mullet, sat joint-third overnight after opening with a 67 and he followed that with an eight-under-par second round to lead by two shots in the clubhouse from Cameron Young of the United States.

The 28-year-old Smith posted the best score by any player in the field on Friday with a round that featured six birdies -- including at each of the first three holes -- an eagle at the par-five 14th, and no dropped shots.

His halfway total of 131 is the lowest ever 36-hole score in an Open at St Andrews.

"It's obviously a really good spot to be in. 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, whose biggest win so far came at the Players Championship in March.

"But like I said before, I've just got to be really patient over the weekend. I think the golf course is going to get a lot harder and a lot faster. So just be patient and make good putts."

Young, the 25-year-old New Yorker, led by two overnight after opening with a 64 of his own and followed that with a 69 on Friday.

He bogeyed the second hole but steadied himself after that and closed with a birdie on 18 to go alone in second.

- Johnson leads LIV charge -

Earlier former world number one Dustin Johnson, who recently defected to the breakaway LIV series, shot a 67 and he is third overall on nine-under.

Johnson, the two-time major winner who quit the PGA Tour last month to join the controversial Saudi-backed series, followed his opening four-under-par 68 with a bogey at the first but quickly recovered.

The 38-year-old will be hoping to avoid any repeat of the last Open at St Andrews in 2015, when he led at the halfway stage on 10-under but a third-round 75 ended his hopes of victory.

"To be honest, I don't even remember the third round from seven years ago. I've played a lot of golf since then, and that was a long time ago," he insisted before claiming he was oblivious to criticism of the LIV rebels.

"I don't read anything. So I wouldn't know what you were saying or if there was anything negative being said. I don't pay attention to it."

Rory McIlroy, the favourite coming into the week who opened with a 66, was nine-under for the tournament with two holes of his second round remaining.

Elsewhere, world number one Scottie Scheffler and England's Tyrrell Hatton, who played together, both moved onto eight-under at the halfway stage.

Masters champion Scheffler recorded a second consecutive 68 while Hatton enjoyed a bogey-free 66 on Friday.

- Tears for Tiger -

The last player to win the Masters and British Open in the same year was Woods in 2005.

That was the year of his second Open triumph in St Andrews and the 46-year-old was determined to be present this week after recovering from severe leg injuries in a car crash last year.

However, he shot a six-over-par 78 in a grim first round that began with him going into the Swilcan Burn at the first hole.

A 75 on Friday, featuring a double-bogey at the 16th, represented an improvement, but at nine-over he will not be returning for the weekend, and possibly not to another Open here.

The emotion got to Woods, who appeared to wipe away tears as he saluted adoring crowds on his walk up the 18th fairway.

"I've been lucky enough and fortunate enough to have won this twice here, and it felt very emotional, just because I just don't know what my health is going to be like," Woods said.

"I feel like I will be able to play future British Opens, but I don't know if I'll be able to play that long enough (until) it comes back around here."

With the cut projected to fall at even par, other notable names who will not return for the weekend include Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Zach Johnson, who won the last Open at St Andrews in 2015.