Tiger bows out as battle is joined with Smith leading the charge and McIlroy chasing hard

A sentimental day at St Andrews ends with an intriguing leaderboard of Open challengers

The air in the grey town dripped with sentimentality, but of cordite too; for, on a day when Tiger Woods strode his favoured fairways for perhaps the last time of an honoured career, those with grand designs on this 150th Open on the Old Course manoeuvred into position for a battle royale, with Australian Cameron Smith’s midway total of 13-under-par 131 a record low through 36-holes.

If the poignancy of Woods’s finish, including a slow walk over the Swilcan Bridge brought tears to many an eye, including his own, those with their eyes on the historic title will want to fashion that old killer’s instinct of his which once upon a time had invoked fear into one and all.

Does Smith have that hard edge? We’ll see, for among those numbered among his closest pursuers emerged a mix of young guns and old hands; perhaps most notably of all Rory McIlroy, who added a 68 to his opening 66 for 134 to be close enough to have genuine ambitions of claiming a fifth career Major title and first since his 2014 US PGA.

On a day which started with gentle if persistent rain, before clearing for near ideal links conditions, but with the wind shifting direction and the R&A attempting to protect the links with rarely seen flag placements, there were many who contrived to go low, with Smith’s 64 the low round and with the cut-mark eventually settling on level-par 144.


Of the septet of Irish players in the field, just three survived but each in positions to make impacts: McIlroy, of course, is ideally positioned; but David Carey, the Dubliner who plies his trade on the Alps Tour, showed he was well ready for golf’s major stage with a hugely impressive 67 for five-under 139 to sit inside the top-20, while Shane Lowry showed mettle in recovering from a double-bogey six on the 16th to finish birdie-birdie for a 68 for four-under 140.

Among the casualties were defending champion Collin Morikawa, Brooks Koepka, Zach Johnson, winner in 2015, and Louis Oosthuizen, winner back in 2010, while Pádraig Harrington and Séamus Power were also among those who failed to advance to a weekend when only one man will take a place in history.

McIlroy’s round had started just as that of Woods was ending, and he had the time and respect to tip his cap towards the 15-time Major champion as they walked in different directions on the wide expanse that serves as the fairway to the first and the 18th holes.

“I’ve gotten pretty close to Tiger over these last few years … he was all our hero growing up, even though I’m maybe a touch older than some of the other guys. But we want to see him do well. We want to see him still out there competing. And this week was obviously a tough week for him. But we’re all behind him. We’re all pulling for him,” said McIlroy of his boyhood idol.

As for his own round, McIlroy got off to a slow start with four successive pars before birdieing the fifth and seventh and then bogeying the eighth in turning in 35. No fireworks, not at that point. Then, as McIlroy can do, he flicked the switch. The magic appeared. A run of three birdies from the 10th to the 12th ignited his challenge and the roars which reverberated around the links with each putt dropping let the world and its mother know he was on a charge.

It quietened, however, coming in when failing to birdie the par-five 14th and then suffering a bogey on the 15th – where he three-putted – only to get spine-tingling roars again with a brilliant birdie on the Road Hole, just the fifth of the day on the 17th.

The plan for the next two days? “Just play good golf and keep hitting good shots and hit a good shot and hit another good shot after that, just try to hit golf shots until you run out of holes,” said McIlroy, adding of how much he is in control of his game: “It’s been like this all year. I felt pretty much in control of everything, and I think the results and the consistency I have back that up.”

For Lowry, nine shots back off Smith, the chase is a tougher proposition but would have been even more difficult if he hadn’t responded to that double-bogey on 16 – where his approach from rough finished against the rear face of a greenside bunker – by birdieing the 17th, the toughest hole on the course, and closing out with a birdie on 18.

“I’m obviously a long way behind but, if I can go out and shoot a score, probably in the mid-60s, you never know come Sunday,” said Lowry, who had six birdies in a round, only marred by that mistake on 16, when too aggressive from the rough with his approach which found the rear trap.

Smith, though, is the man in pole position. Once again, his putting was supreme in a flawless round that started with three straight birdies and ultimately finished with six birdies and an eagle, on the 14th where he rolled in a 64-footer.

Of the challenge heading into the weekend, with the course expected to again firm up, Smith observed: “I think there’s going to be a few more gnarly pins, and I think being smart out there is definitely going to be the key to staying at the top of the leaderboard.”

Game on!


British and Irish unless stated, par 72, (a) denotes amateur

131 Cameron Smith (Aus) 67 64

133 Cameron Young (USA) 64 69

134 Viktor Hovland (Nor) 68 66, Rory McIlroy 66 68

135 Dustin Johnson (USA) 68 67

136 Tyrrell Hatton 70 66, Scottie Scheffler (USA) 68 68

137 Patrick Cantlay (USA) 70 67, Talor Gooch (USA) 68 69, Adam Scott (Aus) 72 65, Sahith Theegala (USA) 69 68

138 (a) Barclay Brown 68 70, Matthew Fitzpatrick 72 66, Lucas Herbert (Aus) 70 68, Sadom Kaewkanjana (Tha) 71 67, Si Woo Kim (Kor) 69 69, Min-Woo Lee (Aus) 69 69

139 Abraham Ancer (Mex) 71 68, David Carey 72 67, Thomas Detry (Bel) 70 69, Yuto Katsuragawa (Jpn) 71 68, Xander Schauffele (USA) 69 70, Lee Westwood 68 71, Aaron Wise (USA) 72 67

140 Nicolai Hoejgaard (Den) 73 67, Brad Kennedy (Aus) 68 72, Joo-Hyung Kim (Kor) 69 71, Thriston Lawrence (Rsa) 69 71, Shane Lowry 72 68, Victor Perez (Fra) 71 69, Jon Rahm (Esp) 73 67, Patrick Reed (USA) 72 68, Jordan Spieth (USA) 71 69, Harold Varner III (USA) 73 67, Will Zalatoris (USA) 73 67

141 Sam Burns (USA) 72 69, (a) Filippo Celli (Ita) 74 67, Tommy Fleetwood 72 69, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 70 71, Sergio Garcia (Esp) 75 66, Brian Harman (USA) 73 68, Garrick Higgo (Rsa) 72 69, David Law 72 69, Ian Poulter 69 72, Kurt Kitayama (USA) 68 73

142 Laurie Canter 72 70, Corey Conners (Can) 71 71, Russell Henley (USA) 70 72, Billy Horschel (USA) 73 69, Jason Kokrak (USA) 72 70, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 75 67, Justin Thomas (USA) 72 70, Cameron Tringale (USA) 71 71, Danny Willett 69 73

143 Marcus Armitage 71 72, Paul Casey 71 72, Bryson DeChambeau (USA) 69 74, Chris Kirk (USA) 75 68, Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 71 72, Adrian Meronk (Pol) 75 68, Joaquin Niemann (Chi) 69 74, John Parry 69 74, Anthony Quayle (Aus) 74 69, Jamie Rutherford 73 70, Jason Scrivener (Aus) 72 71

144 Adria Arnaus (Esp) 74 70, (a) Sam Bairstow 72 72, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa) 73 71, Dean Burmester (Rsa) 71 73, Wyndham Clark (USA) 71 73, Justin de Los Santos (USA) 71 73, Robert Dinwiddie 67 77, Tony Finau (USA) 73 71, Sung Jae Im (Kor) 71 73, (a) Aaron Jarvis (Cay) 75 69, Kevin Kisner (USA) 74 70, Robert MacIntyre 70 74, Richard Mansell 73 71, Francesco Molinari (Ita) 73 71, Sebastian Munoz (Col) 73 71, Jordan Smith 73 71, Lars van Meijel (Ned) 74 70, Trey Mullinax (USA) 71 73

Missed Cut

145 Ben Campbell (Nzl) 74 71, Ernie Els (Rsa) 70 75, Justin Harding (Rsa) 74 71, Max Homa (USA) 73 72, Takumi Kanaya (Jpn) 74 71, Zander Lombard (Rsa) 77 68, Keith Mitchell (USA) 76 69, Collin Morikawa (USA) 72 73, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 71 74, Webb Simpson (USA) 71 74, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 75 70, Scott Vincent (Zim) 69 76, Jamie Donaldson 76 69, Brandon Wu (USA) 71 74

146 Alexander Bjoerk (Swe) 75 71, Richard Bland 78 68, Ryan Fox (Nzl) 71 75, Matthew Griffin (Aus) 74 72, Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 78 68, Matthew Jordan 74 72, Chan Kim (USA) 74 72, Kyoung-Hoon Lee (Kor) 69 77, JT Poston (USA) 73 73

147 Keegan Bradley (USA) 76 71, John Catlin (USA) 74 73, John Daly (USA) 73 74, Matt Ford 71 76, Pádraig Harrington 69 78, Zach Johnson (USA) 72 75, Guido Migliozzi (Ita) 73 74, (a) Keita Nakajima (Jpn) 72 75, Shaun Norris (Rsa) 74 73, Aaron Rai 75 72

148 Ashley Chesters 75 73, Min-Gyu Cho (Kor) 75 73, Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 73 75, Brooks Koepka (USA) 73 75, Kevin Na (USA) 72 76, Séamus Power 73 75, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 72 76, Rikuya Hoshino (Jpn) 75 73

149 Stewart Cink (USA) 78 71, Kazuki Higa (Jpn) 73 76, Svn-Hwan Kim (USA) 76 73, Haotong Li (Chn) 73 76, Luke List (USA) 76 73, Phil Mickelson (USA) 72 77, Marco Penge 76 73, Guillermo Mito Pereira (Chi) 75 74, Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry) 72 77

150 Harris English (USA) 76 74, Oliver Farr 76 74, Tom Hoge (USA) 74 76, Min-Kyu Kim (Kor) 73 77, Marc Leishman (Aus) 76 74, (a) Aldrich Potgieter (Rsa) 74 76, Gary Woodland (USA) 74 76

151 Stephen Dodd 77 74, Jorge Fernandez Valdes (Arg) 74 77, Paul Lawrie 74 77, Ronan Mullarney 73 78, Dimitrios Papadatos (Aus) 77 74

152 Sam Horsfield 76 76, Shugo Imahira (Jpn) 80 72

153 Sepp Straka (Aut) 81 72, Tiger Woods (USA) 78 75

154 Darren Clarke 79 75, Jack Floydd 75 79

155 Jediah Morgan (Aus) 79 76, Alex Wrigley 82 73

156 David Duval (USA) 82 74, Pablo Larrazabal (Esp) 75 81

165 Mark Calcavecchia (USA) 83 82

Third round tee-times

08:35 Richard Mansell

08:45 Kevin Kisner (USA), Trey Mullinax (USA)

08:55 Adria Arnaus (Esp), Tony Finau (USA)

09:05 Justin de Los Santos (USA), Robert MacIntyre

09:15 Dean Burmester (Rsa), Francesco Molinari (Ita)

09:25 Robert Dinwiddie, Lars van Meijel (Ned)

09:40 Sebastian Munoz (Col), Jordan Smith

09:50 Sung Jae Im (Kor), Aaron Jarvis (Cay)

10:00 Sam Bairstow, Wyndham Clark (USA)

10:10 Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa), John Parry

10:20 Chris Kirk (USA), Anthony Quayle (Aus)

10:30 Bryson DeChambeau (USA), Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn)

10:45 Jamie Rutherford, Jason Scrivener (Aus)

10:55 Paul Casey, Joaquin Niemann (Chi)

11:05 Marcus Armitage, Adrian Meronk (Pol)

11:15 Jason Kokrak (USA), Justin Thomas (USA)

11:25 Corey Conners (Can), Danny Willett

11:35 Billy Horschel (USA), Cameron Tringale (USA)

11:50 Laurie Canter, Thomas Pieters (Bel)

12:00 Dylan Frittelli (Rsa), Russell Henley (USA)

12:10 Tommy Fleetwood, Brian Harman (USA)

12:20 Garrick Higgo (Rsa), Kurt Kitayama (USA)

12:30 Sam Burns (USA), Ian Poulter

12:40 (a) Filippo Celli (Ita), David Law

12:55 Sergio Garcia (Esp), Will Zalatoris (USA)

13:05 Nicolai Hoejgaard (Den), Shane Lowry

13:15 Brad Kennedy (Aus), Victor Perez (Fra)

13:25 Joo-Hyung Kim (Kor), Patrick Reed (USA)

13:35 Jon Rahm (Esp), Harold Varner III (USA)

13:45 Thriston Lawrence (Rsa), Jordan Spieth (USA)

14:00 Thomas Detry (Bel), Xander Schauffele (USA)

14:10 David Carey, Lee Westwood

14:20 Abraham Ancer (Mex), Yuto Katsuragawa (Jpn)

14:30 Lucas Herbert (Aus), Aaron Wise (USA)

14:40 (a) Barclay Brown, Sadom Kaewkanjana (Tha)

14:50 Matthew Fitzpatrick, Min-Woo Lee (Aus)

15:05 Si Woo Kim (Kor), Sahith Theegala (USA)

15:15 Patrick Cantlay (USA), Adam Scott (Aus)

15:25 Talor Gooch (USA), Tyrrell Hatton

15:35 Dustin Johnson (USA), Scottie Scheffler (USA)

15:45 Viktor Hovland (Nor), Rory McIlroy

15:55 Cameron Smith (Aus), Cameron Young (USA)

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times