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Snedeker Surges to Top of Open Championship
Brandt Snedeker is on a roll at the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England. The 31-year-old followed up his opening 4-under 66 with a 64 Friday to take a one-stroke lead in the 141st playing of the Grand Slam event.
After posting four birdies Thursday, Snedeker put up six more - including four on the front nine - in the second round and has yet to card a bogey. "No bogeys around here is getting some good breaks and playing some pretty good golf," he said.
The Nashville native has a spotty record in major championships, at least so far. He's had only three top-10 finishes in 19 starts, with his best result a T-3 in the 2008 Masters.
"I'm sure everybody in this room is in about as much shock as I am right now," said Snedeker, who's never made the cut in three previous British Opens. "My mantra all week has been to get the ball on the greens as fast as possible. Once I'm on there, I have a pretty good hand on the speed of the greens. I'm just going to try and keep doing that over the weekend."
Snedeker stands at 10-under 130, one shot ahead of 18-hole leader Adam Scott, who opened with a 64 and shot 67 Friday. The 32-year-old Aussie had a so-so birdie-bogey opening nine, then got warmed up with three birdies on the home half, including one on the par-4 closer.
Scott is pleased with his play so far, and hopes it continues over the weekend. "It's kind of a culmination of everything I've done over the last couple of years," Scott said. "I feel like this is the path I've been going down and just happens to have happened here that I've put myself in good position after two days at a major."
Tiger Woods is four strokes behind Snedeker after posting his second straight 3-under 67. Woods, who's seeking his 15th major this week, carded two birdies on the front half and two more on the back, with the only blemish on his card a bogey on the par-5 11th. "I'm very pleased where I'm at," he told reporters. "We're at the halfway point and I'm right there in the mix . . . It's going to be a good weekend."
Woods said he'll continue his pragmatic approach at Lytham. "It's just patience on a golf course like this. I'm hitting the ball in the fairway, and that's the thing around this golf course, you just have to do that. You can't control it out of the rough here. And obviously the pot bunkers you can't do anything but come out sideways.
"So it's demanding. You can take your chances but you'd better pull it off or be conservative and play to different spots. But it gives you a variety of different options to play, what you want to do. It's about commitment because most of the holes are on angles and the bunkers are staggered. So yeah, you can hit drivers down there, and some guys did. Or you can be more conservative. It allows you to play whatever way you want."
Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen carded a six-birdie-two-bogey 66 to reach solo fourth at 135, while another stroke back are South African Thomas Aiken (68), Americans Jason Dufner (66) and Matt Kuchar (67), Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell (69) and Scotland's Paul Lawrie (71), the 1999 Open champion.
2002 Open champion Ernie Els is in 10th at 137 after a 70, while another stroke back are England's James Morrison (70), American Steve Stricker (71), New Zealand's Steve Alker (69) and No. 1-ranked Luke Donald (68).
After opening with a 70, Donald, who carded five birdies and three bogeys Friday, was pleased to finally get going at the championship in his home country. "It's nice to string a couple of solid rounds together in a major," said Donald, who's trying to shake the tag as the best-player-never-to-have-won-a-major. "Obviously where I am in my career, I need to be contending.
"It was a pretty solid round, tee-to-green," Donald added. "The difference between yesterday's and today's round was I holed a few more putts. Still the only disappointing thing probably was I gave myself a lot of opportunities from 100 to 150 yards with the greens being pretty soft, not much wind. I wasn't quite sharp enough, hitting a lot of shots from that distance of 25 feet, and I felt like I could have created some more opportunities that way. But still, again, I hit the ball in play on a lot of fairways. A lot of solid shots today. It was nice to see a few more putts go in. And all in all a pretty solid round."
Stricker said he trouble adjusting to the changing weather conditions. "It was difficult, and then the wind, you know, it wasn't really up that much, but it's out of a different direction and it's cold. It's out of the north, you know, and it seemed like we always kind of played it into the wind going out and then it kind of turned a little bit, and then we got some holes downwind on the back. But it was just enough to make it hard."
Scotland's Martin Laird (69), Denmark's Thomas Bjorn (69), England's Simon Kahn (69) and Simon Dyson (67), Australia's Greg Chalmers (68), Argentina's Andres Romero (69), Sweden's Peter Hanson (72) and Carl Pettersson (68) and Japan's Toshinori Muto (72) joined Americans Zach Johnson (74), Bill Haas (68), Kyle Stanley (69) and 1989 Open champion Mark Calcavecchia (68) in a tie for 15th at 139. That group completed the list of players breaking par over 36 holes at Royal Lytham.
"I putted great, number one," said Calcavecchia, who had four birdies and two bogeys on the day. "It was kind of a tale of two nines. The first seven holes I didn't miss a shot. I was 3 under and skimmed a few lips. I was just playing phenomenal. And then I missed the fairway on 8 with a 2 iron and made a bogey and struggled a little bit after that. But made some nice up and downs on the back nine, including one on 18 for a bogey. I hadn't hit a fairway bunker all week, which is the object out here. And I finally hit one on 18."
Reigning Masters' champion Bubba Watson shot a 73 and is in another big group of players at 140. "I just kept fighting," said Watson of his round, which included three birdies, three bogeys and a triple on the par-5 seventh. "I birdied two of the tougher holes on the course, especially 15. I just kept grinding away. I wasn't mad at my situation, I was just trying to improve, you know. So that's what you have to do is fight for the little goals. The big goals weren't working, so the little goals you have to start with."
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy opened with a promising 67 but slipped to a 75 Friday. Among the many players he's tied with at 142 are three-time major champion Padraig Harrington (72) and Jim Furyk (70). "It wasn't the best day out there," said the 2011 U.S. Open champion, who carded two birdies against five bogeys and a double on the par-3 ninth.
"I was doing pretty well just to hang in there around par on the front nine. And making a double on the ninth there was sort of the turning point in the round and I couldn't really recover from that.
"(I) wasn't committing to my tee shots and it was two minds a few times about what shots to hit off tees," added the No. 2-ranked player in the world. "Yeah, that's just something I'll need to improve on tomorrow, just really commit to it and try to get the ball in the fairway."
The cut line was set at 3-over 143. Among those squeaking in right on the number were Lee Westwood (70), five-time Open champion Tom Watson (72), 1995 Claret Jug winner John Daly (71) and 2011 PGA champion Keegan Bradley (72).
Missing the cut by a stroke were England's Justin Rose (70), Spain's Sergio Garcia (72), 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel (75) and 2009 PGA Championship winner Y.E. Yang (70).
Finishing further down the leaderboard were 1996 Open champion Tom Lehman and 2001 Open champion at Royal Lytham David Duval (both 145), 2010 PGA winner Martin Kaymer (146), reigning Open champion Darren Clarke (147) and 2012 U.S. Ryder cup captain Davis Love III (150).
One of the pre-tournament favorites, Phil Mickelson, followed up his opening 73 with a desultory 78 that included only one birdie, three bogeys and three double-bogeys. Mickelson missed the Open Championship cut for only the fourth time in 19 starts.
For all the scores, visit http://www.pga.com/openchampionship/scoring/leaderboard.