Brandt Snedeker charges to lead at British Open; Tiger Woods 4 back

Brandt Snedeker of the United States hits his

Brandt Snedeker of the United States hits his tee shot on the fourth hole during the second round of the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club. (July 20, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

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LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- Brandt Snedeker tied a British Open scoring record Friday, sat down in the media tent and true to his hang-loose character insisted, "I'm sure everybody in the room is in about as much shock as I am right now.''

The locals certainly were, inducing a journalist to comment, "We all know you've won tournaments as a pro, but there will be lots of British people tonight saying, 'Who's Brandt Snedeker?' "

To which the 31-year-old Snedeker, from Nashville and Vanderbilt U. responded, "I'm sure there's lots of Americans saying that, too.''

Snedeker went to the top of the leader board of this 141st Open Championship by shooting 6-under-par 64 on the soggy, soft links of Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club.

That equaled the 1-day-old course record for an Open and also matched Nick Faldo's mark of 130 for the first 36 holes of any Open, set in 1992 at Muirfield.

But despite his outstanding play over two rounds, 10 birdies, no bogeys -- there was a 10-foot par-saving putt on 18 Friday -- Snedeker is only one shot ahead of Adam Scott, an Australian who followed his first-round 64 with a 3-under 67.

And four shots back is none other than Tiger Woods, who holed one for a birdie 3 on 18 from one of those supposedly inescapable bunkers to finish off a second straight 67.

"It wasn't as hard as it may have looked,'' Woods, seeking his first major win since the 2008 U.S. Open, said of the shot. "I was on the upslope . . . Overall, I'm very pleased at where I'm at. We're at the halfway point and I'm right there in the mix."

Moments after Woods' shot, which brought a roar from a gallery stubbornly remaining in the stands around 7:20 p.m. British time, 62-year-old Tom Watson sank a 30-foot birdie for a 72 and a total of 3-over 143, exactly at the cut. Also around for the final 36 holes will be another senior American, Mark Calcavecchia, 52, with a 71 and 68 for 139.

Snedeker, winner of three PGA Tour tournaments, including the Farmers Insurance Open at San Diego in January, might best be remembered for making nine bogeys in the final round of the 2008 Masters, shooting 77, dropping into a tie for third, then crying during his media interview.

He said he loves links golf but had not made the cut in three previous Open tries. However, trying to model his game after that of Watson, a five-time champion, Snedeker said he hit for the middle of the greens, not the pins.

"I'm making every 25-footer I look at,'' Snedeker said. "My mantra is get on the green as fast as possible.''

Masters winner Bubba Watson stumbled to an 8 on the par-5 seventh but finished at 73 for an even-par 140.

Phil Mickelson had three double-bogeys (also one Thursday), shot 78 for an 11-over 151, missed the cut for only the fourth time in 19 Open starts and sighed: "I really don't know what to say. I obviously played terrible."

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