July 16, 2021

By Martyn Herman

SANDWICH, England (Reuters) – American Collin Morikawa tore up the Royal St George’s links with a storming outward nine to move into the British Open lead halfway through his second round on Friday.

The 24-year-old picked up four birdies on his opening nine holes and his putter remained hot as he sank birdies on the 11th and 12th to move to nine-under, three strokes better than overnight leader Louis Oosthuizen who was out later in the day.

Light winds and pleasant sunshine greeted Saturday’s early starters and Morikawa took no time in making hay.

The 2020 PGA champion birdied the first and salvaged par on the fourth after a wayward tee shot then picked up another birdie on the fifth after a superb approach shot.

He drilled a 25-footer at the eighth to move level with Oosthuizen before another birdie on nine took the Open debutant clear at the top of the leaderboard.

There was no stopping Morikawa as he left himself a 30-footer for birdie on the par-three 11th and confidently dispatched it.

Oosthuizen’s fellow South African Daniel van Tonder also made the most of the benign conditions as he posted a four-under 66 to move alongside the former champion.

He sank a birdie on the 18th to take the clubhouse lead.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, seeking a first major since 2014, was given a huge ovation from the galleries as he strode to the first tee hoping to start climbing the leaderboard after his battling level-par 70 on Thursday.

But bogey fives on the first and second holes stopped him in his tracks before a birdie on the fourth left him one-over for the tournament and with lots of work to do.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)

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