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World number one Adam Scott lost his putting touch over the early holes of his second round Friday with two short missed attempts for par dropping the Australian to two under par.
The 34-year-old also missed an eight foot putt for birdie on the opening hole as the Adelaide native lost early ground on overnight leader Rory McIlroy who has an afternoon tee-off at six under.
He picked up his first birdie at the relatively easy par-five fifth where he managed to stop the rot and climb back to three under.
Slightly windy but fair conditions had little effect on the early threesomes setting out on the lush, par-72 Hoylake layout, but Scott found himself in trouble as early as the second hole.
His approach shot at the par four 454-yard hole, which is heavily guarded around the green, found one of the dreaded pot bunkers from where Scott made a skillful shot from the sand to within six feet of the pin.
However, he missed his second short putt in as many holes while playing partner Justin Rose covered the opening five holes in even par to remain level for the tournament.
American Jason Dufner, who began the day at two under also dropped early strokes at the second and fourth as the final player in the group.
Scott, who dethroned Tiger Woods as world number one earlier this year, is chasing a second major after becoming the first Australian to win the Masters in 2013.
He previously blew tournament winning chances at the 2011 Masters and notably the 2012 Open at Royal Lytham.
Winner of 27 professional events, he had a golden chance to lift the Claret Jug two years ago when leading by four shots with four holes to play.
His late collapse allowed South African Ernie Els to win his second British Open after lifting the title in 2002.
Comparisons have already been made with compatriot Greg Norman who also struggled to complete winning opportunities at Grand Slam tournaments although the 'Great White Shark' did finish his career with two Open titles in 1986 and 1993.
His struggles to close the gap on Northern Ireland's McIlroy have made it an uphill task with many of the leaders expecting more favourable conditions in the afternoon.
But Scott said on the eve of his second round, he believed he will be in contention come Sunday.
“I've got a long way to go, 36 holes to put myself in a position, so I'll just be grinding the next two days,” said Scott.
“If I keep swinging well, I think I'll give myself enough chances to be there Sunday.
“Like I said Tuesday or Wednesday, I've kind of got it make it happen when I'm playing good at the moment. – AFP