LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – Two days at Royal Lytham, two runs at the major championship scoring record. This time it was Brandt Snedeker, who likewise fell just short as he stormed Royal Lytham with a 6-under-par 64. But it was good enough to wrest the British Open lead from Adam Scott – and grab a piece of the tournament’s 36-hole scoring mark.
“Yeah, I’m sure everybody in this room is in about as much shock as I am right now,” quipped Snedeker, who had missed the cut in his three previous Open appearances.
“I’m not by any means hitting it on all cylinders. I’m making every 25-footer I look at, so that makes it a lot easier.”
Five birdies in a seven-hole stretch moved Snedeker to 10-under with six holes to play, but couldn’t build on it any further. Nonetheless, his two-day total of 130 strokes matched Nick Faldo’s record, set at the 1992 Open at Muirfield.
In this case, though, it was good only for a one-stroke advantage. Scott set out on his round shortly after Snedeker signed his card, overcoming an early bogey for a 67 to keep the pressure on.
Nor will anyone overlook the next man in line, even with a three-shot separation. That would be Tiger Woods, who birdied two of his last three holes – including a bunker holeout at No.18 – to finish off his second consecutive 67.
“I figured I had a game plan that I thought would fit well on this golf course, and I figured I could execute it,” Woods said. “And I’ve done that so far.”
From there, it was another two shots back to a quintet of pros at 4-under that included a pair of major-championship winners – Graeme McDowell (69) and Paul Lawrie (71) – and Players Championship titleholder Matt Kuchar (67).
“It’s a world-class leaderboard,” Scott said. “I think no matter what the conditions are tomorrow, one of those guys is going to have a good day and make up ground.”
Snedeker became the third man to shoot 64 at Royal Lytham, one day after Scott joined Tom Lehman (1996) on the list. Overnight rain on the Lancashire countryside kept conditions soft and receptive, though green speeds were slightly faster after a morning mowing.
“The softness (has) played a factor in it, for sure,” Snedeker said. “It would be stupid to say it hasn’t. I’ve never seen balls spin (on the green) at a British Open before, but it’s spinning this week.”
Snedeker made it work to his advantage at No.18, where he had to chop back to the fairway after a drive into the rough. But after his wedge attempt skipped about 15 feet past the hole, it spun back to set up and 8-foot par save.
“I played such a good round,” he said, “I didn’t want to mess it up at 18 by doing something stupid.”
Instead, Snedeker stayed bogey-free for the first 36 holes on a Royal Lytham layout that features 206 bunkers. The last time an Open player went without a bogey through the first two rounds came 12 years ago – Woods during his 2000 victory march.
Snedeker found himself leading by five shortly after signing his card, but that was with Scott and Woods still warming up.
“We’ve got so much golf to go,” Snedeker said. “If it’s blowing sideways tomorrow, no lead is safe. And the same thing will be said for Sunday.”
Forecasts call for brighter weather through the weekend – though that’s also what they said about today. “They haven’t got the forecast right yet,” Woods said, “so we’ll see.”
An adventurous start for Rory McIlroy – including an approach shot at No.3 that wound up on the fourth tee – turned into calamity with a double bogey at No.9 and two more bogeys after the turn. A 75 left him at 2-over for the week, barely inside the projected cut line.
That was better than Phil Mickelson, who carded three bogeys and three double bogeys on the way to a 78 that sent him home at 11-over.
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