Leishman shines, Smith bows out at Saudi International

Marc Leishman has raced up the leaderboard at the Saudi International while his great pal Cameron Smith missed the cut at the Asian Tour's flagship event.

Cameron Smith has suffered a rare missed cut at the Saudi International but his great mate Marc Leishman is shining at the Asian Tour's lucrative flagship event.

Smith, the world No.4, hadn't missed a halfway cut since last year's US Open, a blip in the heart of his triumphant 2022 season.

Yet a one-under-par 69 on Friday to follow up his opening 73 wasn't enough to earn the Queenslander his spot over the weekend at the Royal Greens course in Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Economic City.

Again struggling to find the fairways - he missed eight of 14 - Smith needed a 67 to make the cut on level par, but a round of four birdies offset by three bogeys left him two strokes short.

So it's now down to Smith's buddy Leishman, who got back into his old groove with a six-under-par 64, and the in-form Lucas Herbert, who shot a 65, to lead the Australian challenge for the $US1 million ($A1.4 million) first prize.

Mexican Abraham Ancer continues to lead the way at 11 under after his second-round 66, one shot clear of American Cameron Young.

Yet the evergreen 39-year-old Victorian Leishman, who's been off the radar a little since his move to LIV Golf, looks poised to challenge in a tie for third at eight under with South African Louis Oosthuizen and Thai Sadom Kaewkanjana

He recorded five birdies and a spectacular eagle two on the par-four 10th, where he sank his approach.

"Yeah, really happy with the start," reported Leishman.

"To come out early this morning and to put a low one on the board in more benign conditions was pretty satisfying."

Of his eagle, he explained: "Hit a three-iron off the tee and then had perfect yardage with my gap wedge.

"Hit a good shot, landed about a foot past it, a foot right of it, and spun back into the hole.

"They're sort of unexpected - but it's nice when they happen. Hopefully I can do more of that later on in the week."

Enjoying his lighter schedule on the LIV circuit, Leishman is adamant that his ambition hasn't dimmed.

"Obviously, I want to have a win this year, win one of the LIV events. It will be nice to get into the majors but first and foremost, I'd like to try to finish it off here this week," he said.

Herbert, fresh from his third-place finish in the Dubai Desert Classic, continued his fine form with a seven-birdie round that leaves him only four off the pace, tied for sixth place.

Herbert's LIV colleague Matt Jones and Andrew Dodt both recorded a second-straight round of 68 to sit at four under, tied for 19th.