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British Open 2022 rankings breakdown: Cameron Smith rises to the top as Rory McIlroy stays hot in second round

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The second round of the 150th Open Championship featured a bit of everything on Friday. It all started with the fans dispatch Tiger Woods in the greatest way as the 15-time Major winner’s playing career at St. Andrews may have come to an end with a missed cut this week. As he descended the 18th fairway to a standing ovation, tears streamed from Woods’ eyes as he looked back on his crowning accomplishments at the Home of Golf and previous legends of the game to receive an equally warm goodbye from the people of St. Andrews. .

Fans were on their feet again a few hours later, albeit for a different reason, as Cameron Smith signed an 8-under 64 to set the 36-hole scoring record for an Open at the Old Course. Sitting at 13 under for the championship, the long-haired Aussie appears to be in full control of his game as he racked up 12 birdies and an eagle against just one bogey in his first two rounds.

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And then you have Rory McIlroy, who, while seeking his first major championship since 2014, has put himself in an exceptionally strong position at this Open. McIlroy stayed hot playing in one of the last pairings of the day and is now just three strokes away from Smith entering Moving Day.

Five of the last six leading 36 holes at the Open have won, and Smith should make a good effort this weekend to continue that trend. Meanwhile, each of the last seven Open winners at St. Andrews has been T4 or better after two rounds with 14 of the last 15 sitting within three strokes of the lead after 36 holes.


Here’s the breakdown of the rest of the standings at the 150th Open.


1. Cameron Smith (-13): How do you save a 5-under 67 at St. Andrews? Well, by carding an 8-under 64 the next day and setting the 36-hole scoring record for an Open at the Old Course. Smith has been incredible through the first two rounds, and his touch both on and around the green is proving to be a serious difference maker. For a player who caused most of his major championship damage at Augusta National alone, Smith took exactly what works at the Masters and implemented it at this year’s Open.

“I think I’ve always been a really good player in tough conditions,” Smith said. “I think most Australians are, for whatever reason. I think we’re all bred to be smart golfers, sometimes off the flag. And that serves us really well, I think, in big tournaments and when conditions are getting tough.”


2. Cameron Young (-11): The Open debutant started his second round with a bit of nerves as he bogeyed on his second hole of the day. Sleeping in the lead after shooting an 8-under 64 on Thursday, expect Young to show some tension. He quickly shrugged off any discomfort he may have had and continued to advance Friday with a round of 3 under 69. Young hovered on the leaderboard for most of 2022 and a breakthrough always seemed imminent. While most would have pointed to a regular PGA Tour event for this time, perhaps his play at the PGA Championship should have led us there instead.

“I’m second, I’d rather be second than 10th,” said a half-hearted youngster. “You’re going to have to play some good golf over the weekend anyway. So obviously nice to start there, at least.”


T3. Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland (-10): There’s a bit of a Spiderman meme with these two because Hovland reminds me to a certain extent of a young McIlroy. Playing freely with a broad smile and almost too innocent or oblivious to the danger around every corner, Hovland challenged for a major championship for the first time in his career. Still, to succeed, the two will need to swap places as Hovland could use a bit more patience and discipline and McIlroy a bit more freedom. If they want to do it effectively, both players have the firepower to catch the Camerons in front of them and head for the final 18 holes.


5. Dustin Johnson (-9): The two-time major winner has been steady throughout his first 36 holes and as a result he will head into the weekend with a chance to win his third major title. Although Johnson isn’t on TV much these days, he came to the Open having finished in the top 25 with two top-10 finishes at LIV Golf nights. He’s often thrived at the Old Course, and this week looks no different. The 18-hole and 36-hole leader at the 2015 Open, Johnson closed with consecutive rounds of 75. He is hoping for a massive improvement this weekend.

“I really like the golf course,” Johnson said. “I like it when it plays tight and fast like that. You really have to think about your path, kind of every shot – where you’re trying to throw it, where you want your ball to land. Obviously, sometimes that’s is very difficult to do. I feel like I did a really good job with it the first few days. I want to do a bit more this weekend.


T6. Scottie Scheffler and Tyrrell Hatton (-8): Just like at the US Open, the world No. 1 arrived in St. Andrews flying under the radar. Missing the cut in his last start at the Scottish Open, Scheffler came to his senses after carding back-to-back rounds of 68. He will start the weekend five strokes clear of Smith, but s Proved comfortable coming back by a significant margin as his wins at the Phoenix Open and the Arnold Palmer Invitational featured weekend races.

“Globally [I’m] just stay in position. I think this morning I managed my swing well,” Scheffler said. “I didn’t swing my first six or seven holes well at all, but I stayed out of trouble and made some good leave. After that, once we made the turn, I had a good swing on nine, and after that I hit most of my shots close to where I wanted. I’m pretty happy with the way I played.”


T8. Patrick Cantlay, Adam Scott, Talor Gooch and Sahith Theegala (-7): The reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year has been a staple of the rankings this season, but remains winless in solo play. Lifting a trophy alongside Xander Schauffele at the Zurich Classic, Cantlay also has six top-five finishes in 2022, including last week at the Scottish Open. Despite his consistency, there are those who criticize Cantlay for not yet matching his level of production talent in major championships. This week will mark his best chance yet to capture one of the big four as he entered with some momentum after finishing in the top 15 at the US Open and is within easy reach of the lead.


T12. Matt Fitzpatrick and five others (-6): The US Open champion’s best Open finish is a tie for 20th place, but you wouldn’t know that from his second-round play at the Old Course. Alongside Woods on an emotional day at golf, Fitzpatrick held steady and signed for a 6-under 66 to propel himself into the race. If the Englishman can pull it off, he will join Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson and Woods as players to complete the US Open-Open double in the same year.

“I feel different,” Fitzpatrick said of being a great champion. “I can compete and I can win. It’s definitely positive. It’s not holding me back. It’s not something that makes me nervous. I have to show myself a little more. Yeah, it just gave me that extra confidence, I guess.”


T18. Xander Schauele and five others (-5): The hottest man in golf came to St. Andrews having won his last two starts and was well placed after opening with a 3-under 69. Schauffele birdied two of his first five holes on Friday and looked like he could put his stamp on this championship. Instead, loose shots on the easy par-4 ninth and par-4 12th wasted any momentum as he finished with a 2-under 70 round.


T24. Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Will Zalatoris and eight others (-4): Nine strokes over the course of 36 holes may be too much to overcome, but we’ve seen crazier things happen at major tournaments – just look back at the PGA Championship. These players will have to be faultless, and someone like Spieth has to kick himself considering how he finished his second round. Having hit 5 under for the championship after hitting 4 under 32, the 2017 champion golfer of the year had a legitimate chance to find 7 under with short birdie efforts on numbers 10 and 12. Passing on those opportunities, Spieth has played its last six holes in 1 on and possibly out of this championship.


Rick Gehman is joined by Mark Immelman to recap Friday’s action at The Open Championship 2022. Follow and listen to The First Cut on Apple podcast and Spotify.

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