Brandt Snedeker of the USA fired a second round of 64 to lead the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes by a single stroke from Adam Scott of Australia. Tiger Woods is lurking four back.

Playing at 10.26am, Snedeker produced by far the best performance of the early starters. He opened with a birdie two for the second straight day and followed it with three more birdies at the 6th, 7th and 9th holes. Out in 30, the 31-year-old picked up two more shots on the run for home to finish with a six-under-par 64.

The American is yet to drop a shot in the tournament and he’s yet to go in one of Royal Lytham’s treacherous bunkers. That’s been a key to his success as rain has made those bunkers even more difficult to escape from than usual.

“No bogeys around here means getting some good breaks and playing some pretty good golf,” he said. “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 for the speed. I’m just going to try and keep doing that over the weekend.”

First round leader Adam Scott produced another solid round to finish 36-holes on nine-under-par, one behind Snedeker. Like the American, the key to the Aussie’s success was eliminating the mistakes. He had only one bogey, at the difficult third hole, but bounced back with four birdies from the 7th to the 18th. He’s feeling positive about his form going into the weekend. It’s the first time he’s been right in contention entering the last two rounds of an Open Championship.

“I felt really good coming in here,” he said. “I played well at AT&T, my last outing, and I had really good days on the range before I came up here. And I hit the ball well in all my practice rounds and got a good feel for the course.”

Like Scott, Tiger Woods posted a second round 67. It was a typically strategic performance from the three-time Open winner, in which he used his driver just once from the tee.

The highlight of Tiger’s round came on the final hole. He played a poor approach that leaked to the right and ended in a greenside bunker. He was short-sided with a tricky shot from the heavy sand. But he popped it up quickly and the ball hit the green just outside the bunker, tracked for the hole and dropped for a birdie three. The huge galleries around the green let out a deafening roar and Woods punched the air in celebration. He finished on six-under-par, four behind Snedeker.

“Overall I’m pleased,” he said. “We’re at the halfway point and we’re right in the mix.”

The leading Brisith players are Paul Lawrie and Graeme McDowell. They finished at four-under-par in a tie for fifth place. They’re one behind Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen who produced an excellent 66 to be five-under-par, alone in fourth.

The cut came at three-over par and there will be some notable absentees over the weekend. Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel and Justin Rose all came up one shot short. Martin Kaymer, Ryo Ishikawa and defending champion Darren Clarke will also miss out.

Tom Watson delighted the crowds by holing a 25-foot putt on the final green for a birdie three. It was enough to get the 62-year-old back to three-over-par – just good enough to make the weekend.

141st Open Championship leaderboard through two rounds

1   Brandt Snedeker (USA)      66   64      130
2   Adam Scott (Aus)         64   67      131
3   Tiger Woods (USA)      67   67      134      
4   Thorbjorn Olesen (Den)      69   66      135
T5   Paul Lawrie (Sco)         65   71      136
T5   Matt Kuchar (USA)      69   67      136
T5   Graeme McDowell (NIR)      67   69      136
T5   Jason Dufner (USA)      70   66      136
T5   Thomas Aiken (RSA)      68   68      136
10   Ernie Els (RSA)         67   70      137

Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage