Brian Harman takes a five-shot lead over Tommy Fleetwood into the weekend at The 151st Open, as world No 1 Scottie Scheffler and defending champion Cameron Smith survived scares to make the cut.
The American fired an eagle and four birdies in a stunning six-under 65 to move to 10 under at Royal Liverpool, with the 132 shots taken over 36 holes the same Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy required during the first two days of their Open victories at the same venue.
Harman holds a commanding advantage over Fleetwood, who remains on five under ahead of Ryder Cup hopeful Sepp Straka, on a day where four Just Stop Oil protesters were arrested after trying to cause disruption on the 17th green.
McIlroy is nine strokes back as he chases a fifth major title and second at Hoylake, while Scheffler needed a final-hole birdie and Smith produced an incredible closing eagle to both sneak through to the weekend.
Harman started the day a shot off the lead but charged up the leaderboard when he holed from 20 feet at the second for the first of three long-range birdies, with the left-hander adding another at the par-five fifth after hitting the pin with his chip from the rough to leave a tap-in.
The world No 26 chipped in to save par at the 12th after having to play sideways out of a bunker and hole from 10 feet to avoid dropping a shot at the 17th, then extended his lead by signing off a blemish-free card with a 15-foot eagle at the par-five last.
Fleetwood – who shared the overnight lead with Emiliano Grillo and amateur Christo Lamprecht – was Harman’s closest challenger in the afternoon wave, despite being over par for his round until he nailed a 60-foot birdie at the par-four 10th to get back to five under.
The Englishman responded to bogeying the par-three 13th by slotting in from 20 feet at the next for the first of back-to-back birdies, only to scramble a bogey at the 16th after having to pitch out of a fairway bunker and then convert from 11 feet to save par at the 17th.
Fleetwood finished by the grandstand as he looked to reach the green in two and then pitched over the green with his third shot, although salvaged a par to ensure he would play alongside Harman in the final group on Saturday.
Straka was over par for the tournament with seven holes remaining but then birdied each of his next four holes, with the Austrian then responding to bogey at the 16th by finishing with back-to-back birdies and jump into third spot.
Min Woo Lee, Shubhankar Sharma and former world No 1 Jason Day share fourth spot on three under, while 2017 champion Spieth is eight off the pace after posting three bogeys in a back-nine 39.
McIlroy birdied the last to salvage a one-under 70, leaving him in the same group as Royal Liverpool member Matthew Jordan, with US Open champion also on one under after a final-hole bogey.
Former US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick and Masters winner Jon Rahm are on two over alongside Tyrrell Hatton, who closed with a quadruple-bogey nine at the last, with Smith also 12 back despite almost holing out for albatross and leaving a tap-in eagle on his closing hole.
Scheffler came into the event off the back of seven consecutive top-five finishes but plummeted down the leaderboard with four bogeys in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, with the American only making it through after good fortune for a bunker at the last set up a tap-in birdie.
Collin Morikawa missed the cut by a shot after back-to-back 73s and Justin Rose also dropped out after a second-round 74, while two-time PGA champion Justin Thomas was among the others to make an early exit.
Padraig Harrington made the cut by one shot as a round of 71, which featured three birdies and three bogeys, took him to three over for the tournament.
However, Seamus Power, Shane Lowry, Darren Clarke and amateur Alex Maguire all failed to make it to the weekend.
Lowry, the 2019 champion, began the day well inside the cut mark on one-over but slumped to a six-over 77, hitting four bogeys and a double on 14 while failing to sink a single birdie.
Power (+4) birdied the last but still missed out by a single shot after a four-over 75 that included two double-bogeys.
Clarke (77) finished a shot behind Lowry and Maguire added an 80 to his opening day 72.