Snedeker takes over from Scott at Open
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2012 The Open Championship | Round Two | 21 Jul 2012
Brandt Snedeker set the mark early on day two of the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes with his second round of 64 to reach 10 under and although the conditions provided the opportunity for others to do likewise only Adam Scott was able to mount a serious challenge to the American.
As day two drew to a close Snedeker, a three time US PGA Tour winner, led by one over Scott and by four over Tiger Woods who produced drama at the last by holing a bunker shot to remain in touch.
Snedeker won earlier in the season at Torrey Pines but has missed a few events this year with a bad flu like infection. His record of three Open Championship starts for three missed cuts hardly gave additional cause for optimism about his chances but this is a very different Open Championship to date.
The soft underfoot conditions and lack of wind have made the Championship more in keeping with a USPGA Tour venue than the brutal test than was expected of Royal Lytham & St Annes earlier in the week but that should take nothing away from Snedeker’s efforts.
“I’m sure everybody in this room is in about as much shock as I am right now,” said Snedeker after his round. “But I feel good. I played honestly pretty well the first two days. No bogeys around here is getting some good breaks and playing some pretty good golf. My mantra all week has been to get the ball on the greens as fast as possible. Once I’m on there I have a pretty good hand for the speed of the greens and every. Just going to try and keep doing that over the weekend.”
Snedeker gave an insight into his form reversal given his record at the Open Championship. A round of golf with Open specialist Tom Watson three or four years back encouraged him to adopt a different attitude to playing in Britain.
“He told me the first time over here he wasn’t a big fan of links golf. The second time he played he loved it. You’ve got to kind of embrace it, realise that you’re going to get good bounces, bad bounces, but you don’t really expect the worst and hope for the best. I tried to do it the first three times around here, but unfortunately I’m still too used to playing American golf, still too used to trying to play at pins and hit shots I probably shouldn’t hit, and this week I’m doing a much better job of even if I had a sand wedge in my hand, hitting it 25 or 30 feet away from it, just to make sure I don’t put myself in a bad spot.”
Several years ago Snedeker had a great chance to win the Masters that would eventually go to Trevor Immelman and although hurt by the missed opportunity he learnt a lot from the experience.
“I think I took out of it trying, no matter how much I talked it down, how much it meant to me, how much a major does mean to everybody out here. To watch Trevor handle the emotions and play the way he did the last 18 really taught me a lot about what you’re going to have to go through. It wasn’t an easy day that day at Augusta. It was real tough. I remember watching him kind of handle himself around the golf course, the way he kind of plotted his way around the golf course. It’s something you’re going to have to do in the course of four rounds.
“This weekend I feel prepared. I’ve been in some pretty tight spots in the States and I’ve been playing in playoffs and playing against the best players in the world and stuff like that. So I kind of know what pressure feels like. Obviously it’s going to be a lot more over the weekend, but I’ve got something to fall back on.”
After the benefit of an early tee time on Thursday and taking advantage of it, Scott again dropped a shot early but he would drop no further shots and add four birdies for a round of 67 and at 9 under he is potentially Snedeker’s greatest threat.
“I’m very pleased with the round today,” said Scott. "Again, a bit of a slow start, but built my momentum from 7 onwards and played fairly well from there. I didn’t take on any unnecessary risks and kept the ball in play pretty well. So kind of stress free, but certainly felt good out there today and something to build on for the weekend.
“I don’t think I should get into match play with only Brandt tomorrow. I just have to play my game. It’s certainly not the last round. And I should be just out there playing my game and trying to do the same things I’ve done the first two days. It’s been really effective. I didn’t look at the leaderboard before I teed off. I knew, I think, before I even left the house Brandt was at 7 under.
“I kind of assumed that I wouldn’t be leading when I teed off today. That doesn’t matter, that’s normal in these tournaments. I saw that he was 10 under after a few holes and I just had to stay patient and wait for my opportunities because they’re hard to come by, before you get to the 7th, really, for me, and build some momentum for the last 10 or 11 holes.”
Scott again talked about his revised scheduling as playing an important role in improved showing in big events times.
“It wasn’t about playing less events, it was about preparing a little differently and more effectively for majors. And I felt to do that, I needed a little more time to practise at home on the range, on the course, whatever practice is needed or even practice at the site.
“And so with that, I’ve had to cut out a couple of events. And it’s not about not wanting to compete or not being at those events, it’s just purely about having a little more focus on the major tournaments. And I feel I play better when I practise more. And I think it’s been effective so far.
“Last year certainly my results were better in the majors, and this year, too, already. So I feel if that’s putting me in a better frame of mind coming into these things and confidence wise, then I’m doing the right thing.”
Tiger Woods produced one bit of late magic that might be significant as the weekend roles on. A holed bunker shot at the last gave him the birdie he needed to get within four of Snedeker. It came on top of a birdie at the 16th providing the strong finish he was chasing to stay in touch.
Dane, Thorbjorn Olesen, is the surprise packet at 5under and alone in 4th position. Olesen, the winner of the Sicilian Open in Italy earlier this year, birdied his final two holes to not only move into a share of 4th position but to open up the prospect of joining Tiger Woods in tomorrow’s third round. It is a prospect he is relishing.
“Yeah as I walked down 18 I knew if I made a birdie here I had a chance to play with Tiger,” said the 22 year old. “That was amazing I have no idea. He’s been my idol in so many years. So it’s fantastic to have a chance to play with him. And I’m really looking forward to it.”
At 4 under and six off the pace are Paul Lawrie, Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell, Jason Dufner and Thomas Aiken.
The leading Australasian after Scott is New Zealander Steve Alker who has missed all but 11 of his last 40 cuts worldwide but who was beginning to show signs of improvement even before this week.
Alker shares 11th position at 2 under and gets the chance to play with world number one Luke Donald tomorrow. It has been a stunning effort given Alker had to come through local qualifying to get a start.
Alker’s game is perhaps more suited to the style of golf course typically played in Europe rather than those on the Web.com Tour where he plies his trade and he could continue to do well as he plots his way around this very strategic layout.
“I like to think this kind of course suits me a little bit because you have to plod your way around and hit your spots,” said Alker. “I’ve been putting well this week. My short game feels pretty good. It’s normally in pretty good shape. That’s kind of helped me out pretty well. But some nice putts coming down the stretch that are from 20, 30 feet have been pretty solid.”
Greg Chalmers is at 1 under, Geoff Ogilvy made just his third cut in ten Open Championship starts when he finished at even par, John Senden is at 1 over, Aaron Baddeley at 2 over and Brendan Jones survived a long afternoon wondering if he would make it or not and crept in on the cut mark at 3 over.
Nick Cullen, Marcus Fraser, Aaron Townsend and Marc Leishman all missed by one.
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