Rory McIlroy spent most of his Friday afternoon on the Old Course at St. Andrews chasing down Cameron Smith and Cameron Young.
The four-time major winner did not quite catch Smith, the 36-hole leader of the British Open, but he did put himself in the mix to end his seven-year major drought.
McIlroy begins Saturday's third round three shots back of Smith and one behind Young. He could put the pressure on the final pairing from the start.
McIlroy is one of five previous major champions lurking behind the Smith-Young duo. Dustin Johnson, Scottie Scheffler, Adam Scott and Matthew Fitzpatrick all sit in the top 15 heading into the third round.
Johnson, Scott and Fitzpatrick combined to shoot 18-under during Friday's second round, in which Smith dropped the lowest score of eight under.
Low scores are there to be had on the Old Course, and that leaves the door open for someone in the top 20 or top 30 to make a Saturday surge and compete on Sunday.
Smith and Young will try to replicate their performances over the first 36 holes in Saturday's final pairing. They will go off from the first tee right after McIlroy and Viktor Hovland.
The full list of Saturday's tee times can be found here on the tournament's official website.
Notable Tee Times
5:30 a.m. ET: Hideki Matsuyama, Bryson DeChambeau
6:15 a.m. ET: Justin Thomas, Jason Kokrak
7:55 a.m. ET: Sergio Garcia, Will Zalatoris
8:35 a.m. ET: Jon Rahm, Harold Varner III
8:45 a.m. ET: Jordan Spieth, Thriston Lawrence
10:05 a.m. ET: Si Woo Kim, Sahith Theegala
10:15 a.m. ET: Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay
10:25 a.m. ET: Talor Gooch, Tyrrell Hatton
10;35 a.m. ET: Scottie Scheffler, Dustin Johnson
10:45 a.m. ET: Viktor Hovland, Rory McIlroy
10:55 a.m. ET: Cameron Young, Cameron Smith
Previous Major Winners Hunt Down Leaders
Smith and Young are not new to leading or contending at major tournaments.
Smith played second fiddle behind Scheffler at The Masters, and he has five top-10 major finishes. Young tied for third at the PGA Championship in his only significant major result.
Smith and Young will have a difficult time holding off the major winners lurking beneath them on the leaderboard.
McIlroy was in pursuit of the two leaders throughout Friday's second round, and he generated a bit more confidence by rolling in a birdie at the 17th hole.
The St. Andrews' crowd let out a boisterous roar when the putt at No. 17 went in, and it will be even louder if the Northern Irishman gets off to a fast start on Saturday. That start would be heard by Smith and Young in the final pairing.
Johnson was not talked about much in terms of winning going into the tournament, but he produced a 68 on Thursday and 67 on Friday to put his name in contention.
McIlroy and Johnson have oodles of major championship experience, and that may show throughout Saturday's round as Smith and Young deal with the pressure of leading and fending off two of the best players in the world.
If that was not enough for Smith and Young to deal with, Scottie Scheffler, the best player in the world this season, and Adam Scott, who shot seven-under on Friday, are in the mix as well.
Eight of the last nine British Open winners at St. Andrews already won at least one major in their careers. Louis Oosthuizen in 2010 was the lone exception.
Players like Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods added to their major title resumes on the Old Course, and that scenario should be in play once again with McIlroy, Johnson, Scheffler, Scott and U.S. Open winner Fitzpatrick chasing the leaders.
Experienced European Players Make Run Up Leaderboard
Some of Friday's best rounds came from European-born players with a wealth of experience.
Sergio Garcia quietly shot a six-under 66 because it only got the Spaniard up to three under.
Thomas Pieters produced a similar type of round as Garcia, as he catapulted up to two under for the tournament with a five-under 67.
Tommy Fleetwood is also in the middle of the pack after a solid three-under 69 on Friday and Shane Lowry used a late birdie on the 17th hole to move up to three under for the tournament.
All of those wily European veterans of many Open Championships could use the confidence gained from Friday's rounds to push up the leaderboard on Saturday.
Garcia might be the most fascinating golfer of the bunch to watch. The Spaniard has not done much at recent majors, but he did finish inside the top six at St. Andrews in 2015. Danny Willett, who sits at two under, also finished in a tie for sixth with Garcia and two others in that tournament.
All of the golfers mentioned above may not have a chance of winning the Claret Jug, but they can sneak into the final five or six pairings for Sunday's round if others struggle with the pressure of playing on the weekend of majors, which is something all of them have done on countless occasions.