Sizzling Snedeker in front

Mickelson misses cut, Irishman McIlroy struggles

Brandt Snedeker, who missed the cut in his three previous British Opens, spreadeagled the field with a sizzling six-under-par 64 to surge five shots clear midway through Friday’s second round.

While everyone else seemed stuck in reverse gear on a calm day at Royal Lytham & St Annes, the 31-year-old American registered a record-equalling 36-hole total of 130.

Snedeker was five strokes ahead of 1999 winner Paul Lawrie of Britain and overnight leader Adam Scott of Australia who were both late starters and still on the front nine.

Former world number one Tiger Woods was three under after three holes but his long-time rival Phil Mickelson slumped to a 78 for 151, missing the cut and continuing his poor Open record.

World number two Rory McIlroy also struggled, managing only two birdies in a 75 but he is likely to be around at the weekend after finishing on 142, two over par.

Top-ranked Luke Donald (68) notched four birdies in a magical five-hole burst from the fourth as he remained on the fringes of contention on two-under 138. Snedeker, who won the Farmers Insurance Open in California in January, reaped a rich harvest of birdies after ramming in a confidence-boosting 25-footer at the par-three first.

With most of his rivals toiling as light winds changed direction and organisers placed the flags in awkward spots on faster greens, Snedeker accelerated clear.

The blond American struck laser-guided approach shots at the sixth, seventh and ninth holes to set up three more birdie opportunities he gratefully devoured as he raced to the turn in 30 -- four under par.

Snedeker, who has never won a major and missed the cut at the 2008, 2009 and 2011 Opens, made further inroads at the 11th and 12th before showing the touch of a master to get down in two from thick greenside rough at the 15th.

The American, who had a hole-in-one at the par-four 16th in practice on Wednesday, signed off with three more regulation figures to tie triple Open champion Nick Faldo’s 36-hole aggregate of 130 at Muirfield in 1992.

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