Tournament of Champions 2022: Cameron Smith cements lead, Jon Rahm still ahead in battle for No 1 | Golf News


Australian Smith shot a nine-under-par 64 in the second round to move onto 129, equalling Ernie Els’ 36-hole record set in 2003; Rahm is tied for second and still holds the edge in the battle for the world No 1 spot

Last Updated: 08/01/22 8:11am

Cameron Smith set a record-equalling 36-hole score at the Tournament of Champions

Cameron Smith set a record-equalling 36-hole score at the Tournament of Champions

Cameron Smith overcame a difficult start in the second round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii to match a long-standing record and strengthen his grip on the lead.

The Australian carded a nine-under-par 64 on Friday after opening with a first-round 65 at the Plantation Course at Kapalua. That put him on a 17-under score of 129, matching the 36-hole record set by South Africa’s Ernie Els in 2003.

It did not look like Smith’s day early on though as he bogeyed the first two holes and slipped down the leaderboard while other players were shooting low. At the par-five fifth hole, however, he chipped in for eagle from just off the green – his second straight day eagling the hole – to get his round on track.

“There’s no point bashing clubs around and doing all that stuff,” Smith, who admitted he did not feel comfortable at the driving range while warming up before the round, said.

“It was definitely frustrating, but I kept the head on, and I knew there was plenty of birdies out there seeing everyone go low.”

In total, Smith finished the day with nine birdies, six of them coming on a bogey-free back nine. That helped his one-shot lead after the first round grow to a three-stroke advantage over world No. 1 Jon Rahm and Daniel Berger.

Rahm posted his second bogey-free 66 in a row to move into a tie for second at 14 under. If the Spaniard finishes the tournament in first or second place, he will fend off Collin Morikawa and maintain his No 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking for another week.

I kept the head on, and I knew there was plenty of birdies out there seeing everyone go low.

Cameron Smith

Berger matched Rahm’s 66, eagling the par-five 15th hole while maintaining a clean card. He was paired in a group with Smith for the first two rounds.

“Cameron had a tough start and then he pulled it together on the end of the back nine,” Berger said.

“It’s always easy to play with someone when they’re making a ton of birdies and you’re seeing balls go in the hole, and he made every putt he looked at today and I think he’s going to be a tough guy to beat this weekend, but it’s not impossible.”

Patrick Cantlay, who carded a bogey-free 67, is alone in fourth place at 13 under. Hideki Matsuyama made a push on the back nine with four straight birdies at holes 13 to 16. He carded a 65 and is tied for fifth at 12 under with Sung-jae Im (67).

Jon Rahm is tied for second with Daniel Berger

Jon Rahm is tied for second with Daniel Berger

The tournament only invites players who won an event in the previous season, and there is no 36-hole cut.

Other low scores among the 38-man field Friday included Sam Burns (64), Seamus Power (65) and Si-woo Kim (65), each of whom are tied at 10 under. That seven-way tie also features Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele. Patrick Reed also shot 64 and is at eight-under on 138.

Phil Mickelson, who chose to play the event for the first time since 2001, posted a 69 Friday and could have been lower had he not bogeyed the last two holes. At six under, he is in a tie for 30th.

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