Little-known Aussie Travis Smyth became the toast of the golf world at The Open on Friday when he nailed a hole-in-one at the controversial new 17th hole at Royal Liverpool. The 28-year-old went out with a blaze of glory as he missed the cut, becoming the first player to nail an ace on the revamped hole.
The controversial new 132-yard par-three is designed to create more late drama at Hoylake. Smyth's tee shot with a nine-iron took one bounce on the green and rolled straight into the hole, much to his astonishment and delight.
'DEPTHS OF GOLF HELL': Justin Thomas in staggering Open meltdown
"It was amazing. A bit bittersweet actually. I had a shocker the day before on the same hole, made a double bogey," said Smyth, a professional who makes his crust on the Asian Tour. "I was just really happy I hit a good shot because I was so disappointed from Thursday.
"Huge surprise that it went in the hole. It was just the perfect distance, perfect wind and the club. Everything just came together - and it was a moment I'll never forget.
"It was a chippy 9-iron, and probably half-way through the flight I was, 'All right, this is going to be good'. It looked amazing."
Smyth said it was the third ace of his career. "Both the other two were - I wouldn't say poor shots, but I wasn't aiming at the flag," he revealed.
"I kind of pushed one in the hole and then I pulled another, but today was my first hole-in-one (when) I've actually attempted to get close. It was great. It was awesome. Even walking back to the 18th tee and down the last, people were yelling my name."
Spectators roared with delight as a TV commentator described the surreal moment as "unbelievable". Social media was also awash with congratulatory praise for the Aussie.
That was epic man! Congrats
— Greg Norman Jr (@GregJrNorman) July 21, 2023
Nice one mate
— Bradley Hughes Golf (@bhughesgolf) July 21, 2023
— Gene T. Fitzgerald (@DripGene) July 21, 2023
Wait a minute, this is the same guy who made double bogey Yesterday! He put it into the jungle at the back! 😂🙌
— Sam P (@Michael10591487) July 21, 2023
Brian Harman shoots clear as Aussies remain in the hunt
American Brian Harman shot the lights out on Friday, with a second-round six-under 65 sending him clear atop the leaderboard. At 10-under for the Championship at the halfway mark, Harman is five shots clear of the field, as no-one could peg back the left-hander's substantial advantage following his brilliant opening rounds of 67 and 65.
"I've been a hunter my entire life - I enjoy the strategy of it," explained Harman after a run of four birdies in a row from the second hole, 12 straight pars and a 14-foot eagle putt at the last. "Yeah, we eat a lot of wild meat at my house, so I enjoy butchering, and I do a lot of hunting."
Harman's halfway total of 132 is exactly the same as that posted by the last two winners of the Open at Hoylake - Tiger Woods in 2006 and Rory McIlroy in 2014. The American is in prime position to go one better than the 2017 US Open when he finished second after being the 54-hole leader.
Reigning champion Cameron Smith showed some trademark brilliance to remain in the 151st edition of The Open when it looked like he would miss the cut. At four-over par with the cut line at three-over, the Queenslander delivered a truly magnificent six-iron approach from 232 yards to within 16 inches of the pin at the par-five final hole, ensuring a tap-in eagle.
It kept him alive for the weekend action, but the reigning champion accepts it's now a "big ask" for him to retain his crown. Australia's hopes now rest firmly with former PGA champion Jason Day and rising star Min Woo Lee.
Day shot 67 and Lee a 68, with both finishing the second round tied for fourth at three-under. "I was going to say both, but there's a lot of good players there right now playing some good golf," said Day when asked if the title was now Harman's to lose or his to win. "I've got a number in my head that I need to win with but I'm not going to say it because, typically, when I say it, I'm terribly wrong."
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 21, 2023
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.