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Steady Snedeker in lead; Woods lurking at Open

    Brandt Snedeker of the United States plays a shot off the 18th tee at Royal Lytham & St Annes golf club during the first round of the British Open Golf Championship, Lytham St Annes, England, Thursday, July 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Tim Hales)

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England >> Amid plenty of wayward swings, Brandt Snedeker and Adam Scott were steady as can be at the British Open.

And look who’s lurking right behind them: a fist-pumping Tiger Woods.

Snedeker, a 31-year-old Tennessean who had never even made the cut in golf’s oldest major, surged to the lead with another bogey-free round Friday, shooting a 6-under 64 that left him tied with Nick Faldo for the lowest 36-hole score in Open history.

Faldo posted a 130 total at Muirfield in 1992 — the lowest halfway score in any major, for that matter — on the way to the last of his three Open titles. Snedeker matched him with a 10-under showing over the first two days, and can only hope that come Sunday he’ll be in the same position Faldo was two decades ago.

Holding the claret jug.

“I’m sure everybody in this room is in about as much shock as I am right now,” Snedeker said after coming to the media center. “My mantra all week has been to get the ball on the greens as fast as possible. Once I’m on there, I have a pretty good hand on the speed of the greens. I’m just going to try and keep doing that over the weekend.”

Scott and Woods may have something to say about that at Royal Lytham & St. Anne, where the weather hasn’t been much of a factor but some devilish pin placements began to spread out the field.

Rory McIlroy went tumbling off the leaderboard. Phil Mickelson went home, missing the cut for only the fourth time in 19 Open appearances.

Scott, who has Woods’ former caddie on his bag, teed off in the afternoon after tying the course record with a 64 on Thursday, a mark that Snedeker quickly matched again 24 hours later. Even though the first-round lead was gone by the time he stepped on the course, the Aussie didn’t wilt after seeing a new name atop the scoreboard. Instead, he turned it up on the back side, making three birdies capped by a 10-footer at the tough finishing hole, leaving him at 67 for the day and 131 overall.

“It’s kind of a culmination of everything I’ve done over the last couple of years,” Scott said. “I feel like this is the path I’ve been going down and just happens to have happened here that I’ve put myself in good position after two days at a major.”

Woods, whose ex-caddie Steve Williams now works for Scott, had the crowd roaring late in the day, holing out from the bunker behind the 18th green for a closing birdie. He pumped his right fist and let out a yell — just like old times, before injuries and personal problems sidetracked his quest to beat Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major titles.

“I’m very pleased where I’m at,” Woods said. “We’re at the halfway point and I’m right there in the mix.”

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