Only a shot separates Mackenzie Hughes and Corey Conners on the leaderboard at the midway point of the Open Championship at Royal St. George’s.
Hughes is tied for 12th at five under, six shots behind leader Louis Oosthuizen, with Conners another shot back in a tie for 17th at four under.
Hughes finished Friday’s second round with a one under 69 and noticed the difference from a day earlier when he opened with a 66.
“I was a tick off and I didn’t have the same control and good feels I had (Thursday),” said Hughes.
“I did a pretty good job of managing my way around and put myself on the greens and just trying to make a lot of two-putt pars and just try to be as stress-free as possible, but this golf course can bite you at any moment,” he said.
Hughes made the turn at even par after two birdies and two bogeys on his first nine, before a birdie on the par five 14th put him under par for the day.
“Looking at a key point in the round, I kind of felt like I made a couple nice pars through four, five and six and that kind of got me going and birdied seven. So, I think that sort of stretch on the front nine felt like I kind of got over a little hump there and got going the right direction,” he said.
“All in all, it was an okay day, not thrilled, but I’m not disappointed. It’s just one of those kind of keep you in the hunt (days) and moving forward to Saturday,” said Hughes.
Conners had a birdie, eagle and bogey as he shot his second consecutive, two under 68 .
“Solid round, happy with the score overall. Bit of a slow start, but really two-putted the ball well,” said Conners.
“I had some really long putts and I was able to get it down for pars early in the round kind of on the first nine, sort of settled in a little bit better, reset myself, tried to be a little bit more aggressive on the last six holes,” he said.
“I hit a pretty good shot on 13, eagle on 14 and that was a real highlight, boosted me up a little bit, gave myself some chances coming in, so overall. pretty solid round,” said Conners.
That eagle on the par five 14th began with a three wood off the tee, leaving Conners with 247 yards to the green, 260 to the hole with wind coming from the right.
“It was a perfect hybrid distance for me. It was going to land just short of the green and hop up. I hit a really solid shot, landed a few yards short of the green, rolled up to about nine feet kind of pin high left of it and had a pretty straight putt inside left and just started breaking at the end and fell in,” he said.
Adam Hadwin and Richard T. Lee each shot a second round 69 and both missed the cut at four over.
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