149TH OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP: Oosthuizen extends lead with second round 65
Louis Oosthuizen set a new record for the lowest 36-hole total at The Open Championship when the 37-year-old South African added a second round 65 to his opening 64 to lead the tournament by two shots at the half-way stage.
On a day of low scoring at a sunny Royal St George’s, Oosthuizen pulled three clear with an eagle at the par-five 14th, but his first bogey of tournament at the 15th, followed by three pars saw his lead cut to two strokes by the close of play.
It gives him a 36-hole total of 129, which is the lowest in Open history, beating the total of 130 by Nick Faldo at Muirfield in 1992 and Brandt Snedeker 20 years later at Royal Lytham & St Annes. The world number 13 now needs to convert his advantage into a second major victory, having posted six runners-up finishes, including at the 2015 Open, since he lifted the Claret Jug 11 years ago.
Oosthuizen is being hunted down by a high-class field, including 2020 PGA Champion Collin Morikawa, who set the early target of nine under in round two after scooting round the Kent links in just 64 strokes in glorious conditions on Friday morning. Fellow American Jordan Spieth’s 67 could have been several shots better if a hatful of putts hadn’t lipped out, but the champion of 2017 sits a further shot behind at eight under par.
There are a number of players waiting to make their move on Saturday, edging into contention when the wind dropped at the Sandwich venue and scoring conditions improved. World number one Dustin Johnson is one of those, lurking at seven under after a composed 65 late on day two that included seven birdies.
Andy Sullivan and Paul Casey are also among the chasing pack of home-grown challengers after shooting 67s and sit right in the mix at six and five under par respectively.
Reigning US Open champion Jon Rahm climbed to five under after the Spaniard posted the joint-best score of the day, his 64 matching Morikawa and Argentine Emiliano Grillo, who sits at six under. Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka is also at five under, while Ireland’s defending champion Shane Lowry posted a five-under 65 to reach four under.
Danny Willett, the 2016 Masters champion, is looking to improve on his joint-best Open finish of tied sixth in 2019 and is currently four under par, with Justin Rose a stroke further back after making an eagle at the par-five 14th.
A host of big English names sit on two under par – Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood, Matt Wallace and Ian Poulter. But they are also joined by Jack Senior, who has never previously made the cut at an Open, and Jonathan Thomson, the tallest man to play at golf’s oldest major at 6’9″.
Thomson, who overcame lymphoblastic leukaemia when he was a child to realise his dream of playing professional golf, made an ace at the par-three 16th and then birdied the 17th to finish two under and prolong his major debut into the weekend.
“It’s just phenomenal. Like the roar, the shot, everything about that hole, it’s indescribable really,” he said. “I just couldn’t seem to get anything going properly then that happened and it was just awesome. What an experience. You dream about playing in The Open as a kid and then you come here, have a hole in one and make the cut, and it’s just like, ‘wow’.”
Further down the leaderboard, Rory McIlroy scraped into the weekend with a second consecutive error-strewn 70, although at 11 shots off the lead his hopes of adding to his major tally look once again out of reach.
Bryson DeChambeau also headed to the 18th hole not knowing whether he had done enough to make the weekend, but a scrambling par saw him post a 70 that included four birdies and as many bogeys to remain on one over.
For the very latest scores from St George’s, visit www.theopen.com/leaderboard