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Snedeker makes ground

American Brandt Snedeker, who was a total of 25 over par for his three previous Open appearances, stormed to the top of the leaderboard at Royal Lytham on Friday.

Snedeker carded an opening 67 to lie three shots off the lead held by Australian Adam Scott overnight, but wiped out his deficit in style with a flawless front nine of 30.

The 31-year-old from Tennessee picked up shots at the first, sixth, seventh and ninth to match the outward half of Tiger Woods on Thursday, before adding another birdie on the par-five 11th to move to nine under and three clear of the field.

Scott, whose opening 64 matched the lowest Open round at Lytham - posted by Tom Lehman on his way to victory in 1996 - had yet to begin his second round, but no one else had been able to mount a sustained move up the leaderboard.

World number one Luke Donald carded four birdies in five holes from the fourth to be out in 31 and three under, but then fluffed a chip on the 10th to bogey and dropped another shot on the 13th after firing his straightforward approach over the green.

Two bogeys and two birdies kept Rory McIlroy three under after seven holes of his round, but the former US Open champion then needed two shots to get out of a greenside bunker on the ninth and dropped further shots on the 12th and 14th to lie one over.

That was just one shot inside the current projected cut mark which four-time major winner Phil Mickelson looked certain to miss, the left-hander at seven over for the tournament with five holes remaining.

England's Greg Owen looked to have found the ideal way to survive for the weekend, however, holing his second shot to the 18th for an eagle two and second consecutive round of 71. Owen also had an albatross on the par-five 11th when the Open was last staged at Lytham in 2001.

In contrast, Nicolas Colsaerts - who started the day one off the lead - ran up an eight on the seventh and was level par with two holes remaining, while Hull's Richard Finch took 10 on the eighth after tangling with trees, sand and heavy rough.

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