Louis Oosthuizen set the lowest 36-hole total in Open Championship history of 129 as a five-under 65 in the second round saw him open up a two-shot lead over Collin Morikawa on 11 under at sun-kissed Royal St George's in Kent.
Oosthuizen dropped his only shot of Friday at the par-three 16th after an eagle at the 14th hole had helped him move three clear, but it could not deflate a stunning display of links golf from the South African.
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He beats the total of 130 set by three-times Open champion Nick Faldo, the last Englishman to win the Claret Jug at Muirfield in 1992, and Brandt Snedeker in 2012 at Royal Lytham after adding to his 64 on Thursday with some more masterful scoring.
“It’s always nice to know you can compete in majors,” said the 2010 Open champion, who has six runner-up spots on his CV in the majors including a share of second behind Phil Mickelson at the US PGA Championship in May.
I just need to see if I can go one better and pull it through on the weekend. My game is good, but it’s a really good leader board. I will have to play good golf if I want to come out first.
2020 US PGA champion Morikawa had sizzled in Sandwich as a rampant 64 in the second round saw him grab the clubhouse lead on nine under at the 149th Open before Oosthuizen doubled his overnight lead by a stroke with conditions ripe for birdies.
The free-scoring duo will tee off in the final group on Saturday for the third round at 3:55pm (BST) with a Saturday Duel in the Sun likely in a sweltering Kent.
Jon Rahm, British Open 2021
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Appearing in his first Open, the 24-year-old Las Vegas man Morikawa led by three strokes in relatively calm conditions before former winners Oosthuizen and Jordan Spieth set off in hot pursuit in the afternoon heat.
Spieth carded a 67 to move to eight under, three behind Oosthuizen, with world number one Dustin Johnson on seven under after a 65 and US Open champion Jon Rahm in the mix at five under after a superb 64 later in the day.
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Morikawa shot 67 in the first round, but went three strokes better as seven birdies saw him reach 10 under on the 14th hole, but a bogey on 15 derailed his momentum as three closing pars saw him equal overnight leader Oosthuizen's unblemished effort on Thursday.
At one stage, Branden Grace's major record lowest round of 62 set at Royal Birkdale in 2017 looked under threat, but a missed birdie putt on the 18 denied Morikawa the opportunity to set a new course record of 63.
He was content with his output heading for the weekend of the season's final major.
“I did not know 63 was the low out here. I just kind of came out and played golf," he said.
For me, hopefully we can just create memories. And hopefully Sunday comes along and we can talk again.
Oosthuizen and Spieth both reached eight under heading for their respective back nines on Friday with Andy Sullivan the highest-placed English player on six under after a second straight 67.
Collin Morikawa produced a 64 in the second round at Royal St George's in Kent.
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2014 Open champion Rory McIlroy carded a second straight 70 to finish on level par for his opening two rounds, one inside the projected cut of plus one.
But Mickelson will not be around for the weekend after the US PGA holder slumped to a 72 to finish on a miserable 12 over.
- -11 L Oosthuizen (SA)
- -9 C Morikawa (US)
- -8 J Spieth (US)
- -7 D Frittelli (SA)
- -7 D Johnson (US)
- -7 S Scheffler (US)
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