British Open 2012: Complete Breakdown of Today's Action
It's Friday here at the Open, and although the course has seemed to toughen up, red scores are out there and one player has taken Lytham by storm.
The man lighting up the course today is Brandt Snedeker, who has unlikely achieved 10-under par and pushed two ahead of the field at the moment.
The 31-year-old from Nashville quietly walked into the clubhouse late in the day Thursday with a four-under 66, but there was no hiding on Day Two.
Snedeker made himself known from the beginning on Friday, holing a 25-footer on No. 1 to quickly move to five-under and within one of the lead.
A lull in his round ensued, but after hitting a great recovery shot onto the green at No. 6, Snedeker pounced on another bird.
A good 45 feet from the hole, the putter cooperated once again, sending the ball right into the bottom of the cup and Snedeker to six-under.
The American kept on rolling, popping in a 10-footer for birdie on No. 7, and when he stuffed a nine-iron to two feet on No. 9 for another birdie, he was out in 30 and at eight-under.
To the announcers' disbelief, he kept on surging.
A 15-footer that just snuck in the left side on No. 11 meant a birdie four, and another midrange putt that dropped on No. 12 gave him his sixth birdie of the day and moved him to double-digits-under.
He stalled a bit from there, needing a miraculous up-and-down from thick green-side rough on No. 15 to save par and a 10-footer on No. 18 for another to finish in the clubhouse with a bogey-free 64.
It was two days to remember for a player with three PGA Tour victories but not on anyone's major-championship radar coming into the Open.
Snedeker went 36 holes without a bogey, hit 26 consecutive greens at one point and putted on Friday as if touched by the spirit of Ben Crenshaw.
Still, there's no reason to get ahead of ourselves. The golf gods did help Snedeker a lot today, placing three wildly pulled drives into matted-down spectator grass instead of the ferocious Lytham rough. He played those holes one under. From the thick rough, he likely would've played those holes two or three over.
This is also the same man who, in the final group at the Masters four years ago, shot a final-day 77 and was reduced to tears after the round.
So, the tournament is far from over yet, especially with the caliber of the pursuers.
Many of the first-day contenders have fallen away, namely Nicolas Colsaerts, Zach Johnson, Paul Lawrie and Bubba Watson (especially), but three of the biggest names have continued their charge on Friday.
First-day leader Adam Scott has backed up his Thursday 64 quite nicely on Day Two. An early bogey at No. 3 (the only square on his card yesterday as well) was negated by a birdie on No. 7.
The Aussie really started to heat up on the beginning of the back nine, holing a 65-footer for birdie on No. 10, finding the par-five green in two on No. 11 and following with a second straight birdie.
Even after a poor tee shot on the par-three No. 12, Scott managed to sink a 10-footer for par to stay on track.
Now eight-under, Scott is two shots back and could get even closer by the end of the day.
As for the biggest name in golf, Tiger Woods has had an impressive Friday as well.
The 36-year-old has continued his conservative tee play and is working it to perfection.
In complete control of his irons, Woods started out with three easy pars before burying a six-footer for birdie on No. 4.
Two holes later, another fairway, another green and another perfect birdie putt (this time from 20 feet) and Woods had his second birdie of the day.
A 10-footer for par on No. 7 kept Woods at six-under, and he remained there with a par at the next.
Woods is four shots back of Snedeker, but has looked good thus far over the first day-and-a-half and could easily be there late into Sunday.
World No. 1 Luke Donald isn't quite as high up on the leaderboard, but he had a great Friday too. Possibly the world's best putter, Donald proved it on Day Two.
A four-birdie stretch in five holes on the front nine was produced by a number of holed 20 or 30-footers and moved the Englishman to three-under par.
A one-over backside stalled his charge and left him at two-under and eight back, but he's in the top ten and in good position if Snedeker were to falter over the weekend.
As for the day's disappointments, there were two in particular.
First was Rory McIlroy.
The Northern Irishman didn't have his A-game from the opening shot, but he actually held it together pretty well over the first eight holes.
He made a great par-saving putt on No. 2, and with two more birdies at Nos. 4 and 7 (against two bogeys), he remained at three-under and well in contention.
His undoing was at No. 9.
The simple 153-yard par-three hit McIlroy right in the gut. A poor tee shot into the left greens bunker was a bad mistake, and the 23-year-old compounded the error by leaving his first attempt in the sand.
A double bogey followed, and it seemed to deflate the young McIlroy. He gave away three more strokes over the final nine, finishing at two-over 142 and heading to an early Saturday morning tee time.
But if McIlory was bad, Phil Mickelson was atrocious.
Mickelson, who started the day straddling the cut line, shockingly played worse than he did on Thursday. Lefty found just one of his first five greens but scrambled his way to four pars and a bogey.
Then, a poor approach at No. 6 into a green-side bunker, an indifferent recovery and three putts from 25 feet (horseshoeing out a three-footer in the process) handed Mickelson a double-bogey six, and he was now six-over-par for the tournament and four shots above the cut line.
Matters would only get worse.
A birdie on No. 12 temporarily halted his downward momentum, but there was no stopping Mickelson's retreat on this day.
A fairway bunker on No. 13 (he hit just 12 fairways in two days) meant a layup, another three-putt from 25 feet (with another missed three-footer) and a second double bogey of the round.
Up against the face in a bunker on the very next hole, Mickelson had to play the shot right-handed, rimming the ball around the face of the bunker only to leave himself in another tough position.
Up against another side of the bunker, Mickelson blasted out 40 feet from the hole, two-putted and recorded his third double bogey of the round.
With Mickelson now six-over-par for the round and nine-over for the tournament, ESPN mercifully stopped covering his play.
He only resurfaced on the coverage at No. 18, where he dropped yet another shot (after bogeying 15 as well) to finish with a second-day 78 that, combined with his first-day 73, left him 11 strokes above par and eight north of the current cut line.
Some of the stars have come out this week and others have fallen away miserably. A new star has made himself known over the first two days though, and we'll wait and see whether Brandt Snedeker can win the game's oldest championship.
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