Tournament of Champions 2022: Cameron Smith maintains his lead, while Jon Rahm remains the favourite for the No. 1 spot

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Tournament of Champions 2022
Source: Skysports

Tournament of Champions 2022: Cameron Smith battled back from a shaky start in the second round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii to tie a long-standing record and maintain his lead.

After a first-round 65 at the Plantation Course at Kapalua, the Australian shot a nine-under-par 64 on Friday. That put him at 17-under 129, tying the 36-hole record established by Ernie Els of South Africa in 2003.

Early on, Smith’s day did not appear to be going well, as he bogeyed the opening two holes and dropped down the leaderboard while other players shot low. However, he chipped in for eagle from just off the green on the par-five fifth hole, his second consecutive day eagling the hole.

“There’s no point slamming clubs around and doing all that,” Smith said, admitting that he didn’t feel comfortable warming up at the driving range before the round.

“It was irritating, but I kept my wits about me and knew there would be plenty of birdies out there watching everyone go low.”

Smith concluded the day with nine birdies, six of which came on the back nine, which was bogey-free. That helped him extend his one-shot lead over world No. 1 Jon Rahm and Daniel Berger to three strokes after the first round.

Rahm shot his second straight bogey-free 66 to tie for second place at 14 under. If the Spaniard finishes first or second, he will hold off Collin Morikawa for another week and retain his No. 1 status in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Berger equalled Rahm’s 66 by eagling the par-five 15th hole while keeping his card clean. For the first two rounds, he was in a group with Smith.

“Cameron got off to a slow start, but he came back strong on the back nine,” Berger said.

“It’s always easy to play with someone who’s making a lot of birdies and seeing balls fall in the hole, and he made every putt he looked at today, and I believe he’ll be tough to beat this weekend, but it’s not impossible.”

Patrick Cantlay is alone in the fourth position at 13 under after shooting a bogey-free 67. With four consecutive birdies from holes 13 to 16, Hideki Matsuyama made a push on the back nine. He shot a 65 to tie for fifth place at 12 under with Sung-jae Im (67).

There is no 36-hole cut, and only players who won an event the previous season are invited.

Sam Burns (64), Seamus Power (65) and Si-woo Kim (65), all tied for last place in the 38-man field on Friday, shot 64, 65, and 65, respectively. Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele are also in the seven-way tie. Patrick Reed carded a 64 as well, putting him at eight-under-par on 138.

Phil Mickelson, who returned to the tournament for the first time since 2001, shot a 69 on Friday and could have shot a better score if he hadn’t bogeyed the final two holes. He’s tied for 30th place at six-under.

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