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Cameron Smith lone Australian survivor at Royal Portrush

Smith the standout amongst an otherwise disappointing week for the Australians (Photo: Andrew Redington)
Queenslander, Cameron Smith, is the only Australian to have made the weekend at The Open Championship, a near flawless second round of 66 moving the 25-year-old two time Australian PGA Champion into a share of 3rd place at 6 under and just two from the lead shared by J.B. Holmes and Shane Lowry.

Smith, who said in his post-round interview after an opening round of 70 that confidence was returning to his game after several indifferent performances in recent months, is playing just his third Open Championship but again displayed that, when his game is right, he can compete with the very best.

Smith displayed improved form at his most recent start in Detroit after what had been a horror run and clearly whatever it is he is working on has made the difference as today was a very impressive performance.

"I've had a couple of weeks off to kind of refine something that I found a few weeks ago in Detroit. The game is just doing nice.

"I was maybe a little too technical with my swing and just went back to trying to see a shot and hit it, which has been nice around here.  You have to hit so many different shots."

Links golf is the purest form of natural golf and a return to an instinctive way of playing the game is clearly yielding dividends.

"It's always good to be in contention any tournament, whether it's a regular tournament or a major championship," added Smith. "And an Open Championship definitely it's typically one I haven't played my greatest golf in. It's just nice to kind of get that feedback from everyone else I guess that I'm playing some decent golf again."

Smith will play in the third to last group on Saturday when he tees it up at 3.30pm and he gets the opportunity to showcase his significant skills to an even greater audience as the event heads into its' business end.

New Zealander Ryan Fox was unable to produce the brilliance of Thursday’s opening round which included six birdies in seven holes during his final nine of 29 but he too has made the cut, if only just, a second round of 75 having him on the cut line of 1 over.

Fox bogeyed two of his first three holes and was on the back foot from that point although a double-bogey at the 14th hole had him on the cusp and he did well to survive to fight another day.

Of the Australians who will not get to play the weekend perhaps Jason Day’s story is the heartbreak. After his opening round of 70 yesterday, Day made steady progress through the field and through 12 holes was 4 under for the tournament and on the edge of contention.

Then, however, would come and almost inexplicable six dropped shots in the next five holes and at 2 over he has missed the cut by one.

Open Championship debutante, Jake Mcleod, recovered from his opening round of 76 with an impressive bounce-back 71 and although his championship is over for this year he can take a lot out of a round which included five birdies today.  

Marc Leishman at 8 over, Adam Scott at 9 over and Dimi Papadatos at 13 over were the remaining Australians to complete the opening 36 holes, Leishman and Scott, in particular, surprisingly disappointing given their prospects ahead of the event.

Papadatos improved 11 shots on his opening round of 83 to record a round of 1 over par 72 today and so, like McLeod, he can walk away from Royal Portrush feeling a lot better about his Open Championship debut than was the case 24 hours earlier.

The round of the day and perhaps the round that sums up this championship best is that of Rory McIlroy who produced one of his bravest ever rounds, bettering his opening round by a massive 14 shots to so nearly make the cut.

The man on who so many expectations rested at the start of the week was full of emotion and pride after the almost impossible nearly became a reality.

It was not only pride in his own performance but it was pride in his home country being able to stage such a magnificent championship on such a superb links layout.

 

  

   

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