Tiger, Rory chasing Scott

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McIlroy_Open REUTERS Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland.

Lytham, England – Second-round play began Friday at the British Open with Rory McIlroy among the early starters chasing 18-hole leader Adam Scott and Tiger Woods among the last of the leaders out at Royal Lytham.

Scott, a 32-year-old Australian seeking his first major title, matched the course record with a six-under par 64 on Thursday to seize the lead after the opening round over the bunker-laden links layout in northwest England.

“I'm very pleased with the start,” Scott said. “It was important to take advantage of calm conditions.”

More of the same weather is expected for round two, which started with seven past major champions among the dozen players directly behind Scott.

Scotland's Paul Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion hoping to win again and create the longest-ever gap between Open titles, and 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson of the United States were one stroke off the pace.

Also at 65 was Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts, who was set to be the earliest of the leaders to return to Royal Lytham after a late closing run Thursday.

American Brandt Snedeker was fifth on 66, one stroke in front of a group of eight that included some of golf's biggest names.

Woods, a 14-time major champion, 2011 US Open winner McIlroy, reigning Masters champion Bubba Watson, past US Open champion and last month's US Open runner-up Graeme McDowell and three-time major winner Ernie Els of South Africa were in the group on 67.

Also three adrift were Friday morning starters Toshinori Muto of Japan, Steve Stricker of the United States and Peter Hanson of Sweden.

Northern Ireland's McIlroy birdied two of the last three holes after taking a double bogey on the 15th hole in round one following a tee shot that struck a spectator in the head and rolled out of bounds.

“If he could have headed it the other way, it would have been in the fairway,” McIlroy joked.

“I thought I did well to keep my composure and keep my concentration and finish the way I did. I'm very pleased with that,” McIlroy said. “It's a great position.”

Woods, chasing the all-time record of 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, matched his best round since March in round one as he seeks his first major triumph since the 2008 US Open.

“I played well,” Woods said. “I really hit it well. I was very close on making a few more putts. Every ball was starting right on my line. I was very pleased with that. I've just got to hit the putts a little harder.”

Lawrie matched the lowest score of his 59 British Open rounds over 20 years, which had come in the final round in 1993 at Royal St. George's.

He had been nine nine years without a victory before ending the drought at last year's Andalucia Open and added another triumph in February in Qatar.

“I hit some really nice shots and played some solid golf, hit the ball in the right places quite a lot and ended up with a good score,” Lawrie said. – Sapa-AFP


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