Dustin Johnson shot a 67 to seize the clubhouse lead at nine-under par on the second day of the 150th Open at St Andrews.
Johnson, the two-time Major winner who quit the PGA Tour last month to join the controversial breakaway Saudi-backed series, followed his opening four-under-par round of 68 with a bogey at the first after going out in one of the first groups of the day.
However, the American quickly recovered from that with no more bogeys and six birdies, including one at the last which saw him move a shot ahead of overnight leader Cameron Young.
Johnson will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the last Open at St Andrews in 2015, when he led at the halfway stage on 10-under par but a third-round 75 ended his hopes of victory.
“To be honest, I don’t even remember the third round from seven years ago. I’ve played a lot of golf since then, and that was a long time ago,” he insisted before claiming he was oblivious to criticism of the LIV rebels.
“I don’t read anything. So I wouldn’t know what you were saying or if there was anything negative being said. I don’t pay attention to it.”
DJ at the top1⃣
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 15, 2022
Young, who led by two strokes overnight after an eight-under-par 64 on Thursday, teed off at at 1:26pm in his second round.
Meanwhile, world No 1 Scottie Scheffler and England’s Tyrrell Hatton, who went out together, both moved onto eight under at the halfway stage.
Masters champion Scheffler recorded a second consecutive 68 while Hatton enjoyed a bogey-free 66 on Friday.
The last player to win the Masters and Open in the same year was Tiger Woods in 2005.
Among the other LIV series members putting themselves in position to challenge over the weekend was Talor Gooch, who shot a 69 to move to seven under at the halfway stage, level with Australian former Masters champion Adam Scott.
“We’ve caught a lot of flak for what we’ve done here recently,” said American Gooch when asked about the performances of his fellow LIV players. “I think one thing that cannot be questioned is the quality of players that are there.”
Playing with Johnson, Scott shot a brilliant second-round 65, the lowest round so far of a day that began wet and overcast before the skies began to clear in the late morning.
Scott has not defected to the LIV tour but Sergio Garcia, another ex-Masters winner, has.
The Spaniard’s brilliant 66 on Friday morning leaves him at three-under for the tournament at halfway.
© Agence France-Presse