Smith tees off at the last today – photo Stuart Franklin R&A via Getty images
Cameron Smith made a good start to the 150th Open Championship on day one but today he took things to another level with an outward nine of 31 and added one more birdie and an eagle on the way in to finish with a round of 64, and after the dust had settled he leads by two over Cameron Young and by three over Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland.
Smith holed a greater length of putts in any one round than any other golfer since such stats were first accumulated in 2004, perhaps the highlight coming with his massive putt across the green at the 14th for eagle and he was 8 under par through 14 holes.
Asked whether he felt an even lower score was in the offing after his outward nine of 31, Smith responded.
“Not really, to be honest. I knew that back nine I knew was going to be really hard. In and off the left the whole way in there isn’t the wind that right handers want. Like I said, just have to be really patient. Hit two really good shots into 14 and was able to get away with a 3 there, which was nice.”
He would safely negotiate the potentially dangerous closing holes and after his round he gave his thoughts on how he feels about what lies ahead.
“I think it’s just exciting to be leading The Open after a couple of days,” said Smith. “I think that experience tomorrow is going to be really cool. There’s a lot of Aussies in the crowd, it seems like. Had a lot of support the first couple of days and really can’t wait for the next couple.
“I think I’ve always done a pretty good job of just treating every round the same, to be honest. I think it’s going to be a really cool experience being out there. It has been this whole week. But I’ve always done a really good job of just doing the same thing, going through the same process every morning, making sure I feel the same — get on the range, hit the same shots. It’s very boring, but it does the trick.”
Asked what he might do given he leads the Open at the halfway stage Smith said: “I think probably try and stay up as much as I can tonight. I think I’m going to be a little bit tired. Just trying to have a really big sleep in. I’m not going to try to do anything for the morning. Sleep in, get on the bike, get the legs moving and get prepared as I normally would every other day.”
Smith of course is not the only Australian with chances heading into the weekend.
Adam Scott today – photo – Stuart Franklin R&A via Getty Images
Adam Scott’s bogey free 65 has him at 7 under and although six shots from Smith’s lead he is very much in the thick of things. His position is made even more impressive given he recovered from a horror start yesterday when 4 over through his first six holes – a remarkable comeback.
“Look, it was as good as the 65 was today,” said Scott referring to his comeback on day one. “I think getting back to even was huge yesterday. After six holes things weren’t feeling particularly good.
“So I’m really pleased with that. I did a lot of good stuff out there today. So hopefully more of that on the weekend.”
Scott’s close call in this event ten years ago still hurts the Queenslander, bogeys at the final four holes at Royal Lytham St Annes in 2012 costing him a first major title.
“You don’t need much extra motivation at an Open Championship. But anytime I think about letting one slip through my hands, it hurts.
“And it would be exciting if I shot a really great round tomorrow to tee off with a legitimate feeling that I’m in contention, not only for the fact that I haven’t really been in that position for a major for a little while, but also for the fact that I’ve had one hand on this jug, I feel like, and I’d like to put two on.”
This is Scott’s fifth Open Championship at St Andrews and was asked just how that experience over the layout will help over the weekend.
“I think it plays a factor around here. It really depends if it gets windy. If it gets windy, then I think it plays a big factor. But I think at these events, just experience in general can play a big factor at the Open Championship, when it comes down to it. Being able to know how to hit a shot or control a shot when you have to. Hopefully I get put in that situation.”
Min Woo Lee and Lucas Herbert are just another shot back and tied for 12th and seven from the lead.
The highlight for Lee was his 35-footer for eagle at the par 4 12th after driving the green while for Herbert four birdies in his opening ten holes had him on the edge of contention but it was a case of him holding on over the closing stages.
Brad Kennedy followed his opening 68 with an even par 72 and is tied for 25th, while Jason Scrivener and Anthony Quayle also made the cut at 1 under.