Catch me if you can. All that was missing from Cameron Smith’s barnstorming charge during round two of the 150th Open Championship was a rousing bugle call.

It was a day that had started as dour and as damp as a torpedoed battleship. By the time Tiger Woods made his poignant march down the 18th, the glorious sunshine was out to send him off. 

All and sundry, through a combination of nostalgia and unfeasible expectation, had been hoping Woods could roll back the years. Instead, this great champion couldn’t hold back the tears as he missed the cut amid moving scenes that should’ve been accompanied by an emotional outpouring warning from the Met Office.

As for Smith? Well, he was hotter than the temperatures those meteorological experts are predicting for parts of the country next week. The 28-year-old Australian came barging to the top of the pile with a sizzling eight-under 64 over the Old Course which gave him a 13-under aggregate of 131 – a record halfway low for an Open here - and a two-shot lead over Cameron Young.

Smith’s offensive had been thrilling. The world No 6 had sprinted out of the blocks with three birdies in a row as he raced to the turn in 31. When he upped the ante with a mighty eagle putt from some 60-feet on the 14th, this golfing wizard of Oz had fortified his position of authority.

In these parts just now, any mention of Greg Norman, the man at the forefront of the contentious LIV Golf Series, will have you locked in stocks on the Bruce Embankment. But Smith is on course to become the first Aussie since - whisper it - Norman in 1993 to get his hands on the Claret Jug. There’s a long, long way to go yet, though.

“There's going to be a few more gnarly pins and I think being smart out there is definitely going to be the key to staying at the top of the leaderboard,” he said after a performance of patience, poise, polish and purpose. “It could get brutal over the weekend.”

The monstrous eagle putt, meanwhile, was something of a bonus. “Once it started breaking about 10, 15-feet out, I thought it would have a chance,” added Smith. “It’s not really one that you're trying to hole. But it was nice of it to pop in the side.”

With Smith setting a brisk pace, those on the late shift tried their best to cling to his coat tails. You could say it was a charge of the fading light brigade. In the lengthening shadows of an absorbing evening in the Auld Grey Toun, Viktor Hovland and Rory McIlroy stirred the senses as this historic championship continued to provide engrossing theatre

Hovland’s eagle two from almost 140-yards on the 15th propelled him to nine-under before he picked up a shot on the last in a 66 to get to within three of the lead. It was McIlroy, though, who was at the vanguard of the night raid.

A three-birdie thrust from the 10th cranked up the volume but a three-putt from 80-feet on the 15th was a momentum-stopping bogey. McIlroy never fails to captivate, though, and a brilliant birdie from 20-feet on the Road Hole 17th – the hardest hole on the course – was a crowd-pleasing corker. A spurned birdie chance on the last, however, was something of an anti-climax but McIlroy, seeking a first major win in eight years, is right in there.

“After the birdie on 17, it would have been nice to make a three at 18 but I would have taken playing the last two in one-under,” said the 2014 Open champion. “I was thinking I would do it four, three instead of three, four so I done it in reverse. I’m in a good position and that’s all I can ask.”

On a stacked leaderboard, Young cemented his lofty perch with a 69 for 11-under while Dustin Johnson ambled up the order with the carefree nonchalance of a man walking his dog on the West Sands as he flung a neatly assembled five-under 67 into the mix to finish alongside Hovland and Masters champion Scottish Scheffler on nine-under.

The 38-year-old certainly has a decent pedigree in The Open with four top-10s down the seasons. He was also leading at this stage of the 2015 championship at St Andrews but slithered backwards into a share of 49th.

As one of the high-profile defectors to the LIV Golf Series, Johnson is under added scrutiny this week. Not that he takes much notice of the fevered, media-driven hoopla. “I don’t read anything,” he shrugged. Funnily enough, that’s what some folk say about this correspondent’s golf articles.

There will be plenty more to write about as this increasingly fascinating championship unfolds over the weekend.