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The Open 2021: Louis Oosthuizen takes two-shot lead into weekend

-11 L Oosthuizen (SA); -9 C Morikawa (US); -8 J Spieth (US); -7 D Frittelli (SA), D Johnson (US); S Scheffler (US)
Selected others: -6 A Sullivan (Eng); -5 P Casey (Eng), J Rahm (Spa), B Koepka (US); -4 D Willett (Eng), S Lowry (Ire); -3 J Rose (Eng)

Record-breaking Louis Oosthuizen holds a two-shot lead at The Open as the world’s best tamed Royal St George’s with a flurry of low scores on Friday.

The South African pulled three clear with an eagle at 14 but his first bogey of the tournament on 17 saw him card a five-under 65 to close on 11 under par.

Collin Morikawa set the early target of nine under in round two after taking 64 shots in glorious sunshine in Kent.

Fellow American Jordan Spieth (67) is 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 par after a composed 65 late on day two that included seven birdies.

England’s Andy Sullivan and Paul Casey are also among the chasing pack after shooting 67s and sit right in the mix at six and five under par respectively.

Reigning US Open champion and world number two 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.

Former Open champion Oosthuizen, who won his sole major at St Andrews in 2010, has dropped just one shot in 36 holes after building on his opening 64 with another impressive performance on day two.

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.

“Feeling good for the weekend,” Oosthuizen, who said he played better on Thursday, told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“The course was definitely tougher with the wind but there was a lot of birdies on the back nine [on Friday] and I am glad I could get a few. All in all a good day.

“Wherever I am would have been fine with The Open. As long as I am up there with nine holes to go.”

Spieth and Morikawa in contention

Morikawa, playing in his first Open, set off at a scintillating pace and posted seven birdies to reach 10 under after 14 but he bogeyed the 15th as he signed for a six-under 64.

The 24-year-old, who won his first major at the US PGA Championship last year, had a chance to reach 10 under par again on the last but could not convert a birdie putt that would have seen him equal the course record.

“I feel pretty good. Towards the end of the round we stopped hitting fairways and making a few birdies, but overall, it’s a very good 64 and I will take it,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“We have to just stick to that game plan for the next couple days.”

Spieth briefly made it a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard when he birdied the 12th to reach nine under before making his second bogey of the day at the tough par-four 15th.

“It could have been really special. I felt like I had a really low one in me,” said three-time major champion Spieth, who last won one of golf’s biggest prizes at the 2017 Open at Royal Birkdale.

“I’m in a great position but it’s kind of a bad taste in my mouth for what could have been I guess.”

Scrambling DeChambeau ‘made mistake’

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy reached one under through 12 despite opening with successive bogeys but the 2014 champion then threatened to unravel down the stretch.

Bogeys on 16 and 17 meant he was teetering on the projected cut line but a birdie on the last saw the 32-year-old post a second 70 of the week and that leaves him at level par.

“If I had finished on one over, I would have been sweating to see if I had made the cut, but at least the last birdie guarantees me some golf on the weekend,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

Bryson DeChambeau also headed to the 18th 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.

The American told reporters his driver “sucks” after a frustrating day one and manufacturers Cobra hit back by saying he was acting like a child having a tantrum.

He was remorseful on Friday evening, throwing balls and gloves to young fans as he left the 18th and saying afterwards: “I made a mistake and as time goes on I’ll look back on this as a growing moment for me personally.

“Hopefully I can make the right things go on from here on out in regards to that because I didn’t mean it, I was in a heated situation and feel really bad about it.”

Phil Mickelson, who won the US PGA Championship in May, needed a miracle to extend his Open campaign after a 10-over-par first round and although he improved, his 72 left him 12 over for the championship and going home.

Thomson aces 16 on dream debut

Sullivan leads the charge for the home hopefuls after back-to-back 67s took him to six under, one ahead of Casey, whose five birdies were pegged back by two bogeys on Friday.

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, who bogeyed the 18th.

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’.”

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