COUNTRY music fan Brandt Snedeker once sang the blues about his Open Championship form, but he is changing his tune at Royal Lytham as he took a one-shot lead over Adam Scott going into today’s third round.
In three previous trips to the Championship, he had missed all three cuts and never been under 70, but his game has been enlivened at Lytham.
The closest Snedeker has come to major glory so far was at the 2008 Masters.
He was two behind with a round to go, but while playing partner Trevor Immelman stayed out in front he shot 77 and burst into tears.
Bizarrely at the Volvo World Match Play in Spain in May he began against Thomas Bjorn with only 10 borrowed ones because his own were delayed en route – and won the first three holes.
In another misadventure, the 31-year-old American cracked a rib while coughing and missed this year’s US Open as a result.
However, everyone was taking him seriously going into the make-or-break weekend.
There was British interest on the leaderboard – Paul Lawrie, Graeme McDowell and Luke Donald, chief among them – though Rory McIlroy slipped back disappointingly on day two.
Lurking ominously in behind the main pace-setters was Tiger Woods, who sank a bunker shot at the final hole of his second round to prove he was still very much part of the title race.
The bunker shot gave the three-time Claret Jug holder and 14-time major champion a second successive 67 and brought him only four behind halfway leader Snedeker.
“It wasn’t as hard as it may have looked,” said Woods afterwards after a shot that had the crowd roaring their approval.
“It’s just patience on a golf course like this. I’m hitting the ball in the fairway and that’s the thing around this course – you just have to do that. You can’t control it out of the rough here and obviously the pot bunkers you can’t do anything but come out sideways.”
Saddest exit of those that missed the cut was last year’s hero at Royal St George’s Darren Clarke.
A despondent Phil Mickelson was another high-profile name to pack his bags early.
Among those also absent from the final two days were Tom Lehman, champion at Lytham in 1996, former Masters champion Trevor Immelman and Paul Casey.
Former winners Justin Leonard, Ben Curtis, Sandy Lyle, Stewart Cink and Todd Hamilton also out, as are Justin Rose, Davis Love III, 2001 Lytham winner David Duval, and Sergio Garcia.
Those that scraped in included Tom Watson, Lee Westwood, Ricky Fowler and Keegan Bradley.