Oosthuizen breaks record to lead The Open
Oosthuizen breaks record to lead The Open

Louis Oosthuizen met the challenge of debutant Collin Morikawa with a record-breaking performance earning the South African a two-shot lead at the halfway stage of The 149th Open.

Morikawa would have harboured high hopes of heading into the weekend at Royal St George’s on top of the leaderboard after defying his lack of Open experience to fire a seven-birdie 64 to set the early clubhouse target at nine under par.

Last year’s PGA champion was three shots clear of the field when he signed his card, but Oosthuizen prospered in the afternoon session under clear blue skies and with precious little wind to contend with, adding a 65 to his opening 64 to become the first player in Open history to shoot 129 over the first two rounds.

Jordan Spieth’s 67 left him three adrift of the leader after 36 holes, while world No 1 Dustin Johnson added to the glut of sub-70 scores among the later starters, a birdie at the last capping a 65 that got him to seven under.

Pre-tournament favourite Jon Rahm powered into contention with a 64 and four-time major winner Brooks Koepka is also within touching distance of the leader, but Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau are 11 and 12 shots behind respectively as both had to scramble hard just to make the cut.

“To have any record at the Open, or part of any record at the Open is always very special,” said Oosthuizen, six times a runner-up in majors, including two this year. “I think I’ve played really good the last two days. I probably played a bit better yesterday in the conditions we were playing in.

“Today we got really lucky over the last nine holes. It was as good a weather as you can get playing this golf course. All of us took advantage of that. I think in our three-ball we had a 64 and two 65s, which you don’t really see around a links golf course.”

Groups and starting times for Saturday’s third round of The 149th Open Championship at Royal St George’s in Sandwich.

All times BST – Gbr and Irl unless stated – (x) denotes amateur

0920 Y Lin (Chn)

0930 T Gooch (USA), B DeChambeau (USA)

0940 B Wiesberger (Aut), R Mansell

0950 J.C. Ritchie (Rsa), M Armitage

1000 P Saksansin (Tha), R Kinoshita (Jpn)

1010 A Rozner (Fra), R Fowler (USA)

1020 B Steele (USA), R MacIntyre

1030 H English (USA), S Burns (USA)

1040 J Kokrak (USA), A Ancer (Mex)

1050 S Horsfield, C Bezuidenhout (Rsa)

1105 R McIlroy, R Bland

1115 X Schauffele (USA), B Hebert (Fra)

1125 P Harrington, M Fitzpatrick

1135 K Streelman (USA), L Griffin (USA)

1145 J Niemann (Chi), V Hovland (Nor)

1155 C Kim (USA), M Homa (USA)

1205 J Thomas (USA), A Scott (Aus)

1215 K Kisner (USA), B Horschel (USA)

1225 x-M Schmid (Ger), J Janewattananond (Tha)

1235 C Reavie (USA), A Rai

1250 L Westwood, J Thomson

1300 J Senior, I Poulter

1310 W Simpson (USA), T Fleetwood

1320 M Wallace, J Veerman (USA)

1330 S Garcia (Spa), B-H An (Kor)

1340 J Rose, J Dahmen (USA)

1350 D Burmester (Rsa), D Berger (USA)

1400 B Snedeker (USA), S Lowry

1410 D Willett, B Harman (USA)

1420 C Smith (Aus), C Conners (Can)

1435 R Fox (Nzl), T Finau (USA)

1445 C Tringale (USA), J Rahm (Spa)

1455 B Koepka (USA), M Hughes (Can)

1505 J Harding (Rsa), P Casey

1515 M Siem (Ger), A Sullivan

1525 D van Tonder (Rsa), E Grillo (Arg)

1535 S Scheffler (USA), D Johnson (USA)

1545 D Frittelli (Rsa), J Spieth (USA)

1555 L Oosthuizen (Rsa), C Morikawa (USA)