- The Open, Round Two
Brilliant Brandt leaves Rory & Luke in shade
New Open leader Brandt Snedeker produced a devastating second round to ensure that Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy are well off the pace heading into the weekend at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
America's Snedeker, the world No. 29, fired a superb 64 after taking advantage of the lack of wind and the damp, receptive course. He is now ten-under, eight ahead of Donald and 12 in front of McIlroy, who could be in danger of missing the weekend.
The top 70 and ties at the end of Friday's play will compete across the third and fourth rounds; McIlroy left the 18th green in a share of 59th spot, while Padraig Harrington (two-over) is also in a nervy position.
McIlroy was punished for a series of careless errors, the first of which came at the third, when a wild shot nearly took out Toshinori Muto's caddie, who was standing on the fourth. The Ulsterman bogeyed that hole and the sixth, but was level for the day through eight thanks to a brace of birdies at four and seven.
At the ninth, he took two shots to escape a greenside bunker on his way to a double bogey; his play from the sand was poor all day, a damaging state of affairs on a track with 206 traps. An eight-foot birdie putt went by at 11, before an inability to get up an down from a bunker at 12 cost him another stroke.
A sandy landing at 14 prompted a further stain on his card, and another one went begging at 17. It was an ugly, slapdash performance from the world No. 2 as his chances of bagging a second major receded from view with a 75.
Donald's putting was flawless on the front nine as he clawed himself up the ladder, with a brilliant 25-footer at eight giving him four birdies in five holes. He stumbled at ten, producing an apology of a chip from off the green: the ball ended up rolling backwards to a couple of feet from where he initially struck it.
And he coughed up another at 13 following a horror second shot: from the middle of the fairway, he thinned the ball and ended up landing beyond the green and in heavy rough. It was an unplayable lie, so he took a drop and put away an inelegant bogey.
Donald, fifth at Turnberry in 2009 but in possession of a generally poor Open record, sank another fine birdie putt at 15, before three straight pars handed him a 68.
While others failed to capitalise on the mild conditions, Snedeker produced a near-faultless performance. He hit every green until the 15th hole - where, despite facing a third shot from the thickest rough imaginable, he salvaged par. Snedeker, who has never previously made the cut at The Open, made six birdies, has not dropped a shot all tournament - and is now in a formidable position. He has also tied Sir Nick Faldo's record for the lowest 36-hole total at The Open.
Harrington, who has lifted the Claret Jug on two occasions, wore a smile throughout his round - but the second half must have riled him. He was razor-sharp on the front nine, playing it in two-under with two birdies, then fell prey to the tricky run after the turn: four bogeys left him travelling in the wrong direction. His winless streak on the European and PGA Tours, which extends back to 2008, is unlikely to end on Sunday.
2010 winner Louis Oosthuizen (level-par) had a 68; Paul Casey had a 79 to end the tournament 11-over, the same score as Phil Mickelson, who was just too wild to be a threat.
Check back later for our evening report, which will feature details of Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia, among others