Richard Mansell overcame abysmal weather conditions to shoot a superb 68 as he established a two-shot halfway lead at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Friday.
The Old Course at St Andrews is a tough enough test at the best of times, but strong winds and driving rain made low scoring at the Home of Golf, as well as Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, the other two Scottish venues that stage this event, even more difficult.
Nevertheless, the 27-year-old Mansell carded five birdies and just a single bogey to post the lowest round of the day as the Englishman climbed to 10 under par for the tournament.
Sweden’s Alex Noren had sole possession of second place on eight under following a second round of 69 at Kingsbarns, with Denmark’s Niklas Norgaard Moller and France’s Antoine Rozner in joint third after their 74s at St Andrews and Carnoustie, respectively.
Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre was another shot back on six under following a round of 70 at Kingsbarns.
South Africa’s Oliver Bekker is on four under (T10) after following his first-round 66 with a second-round 74. Richard Sterne is on three under and George Coetzee two under.
Four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy, fresh from an opening 68 on Thursday, was left well down the field after a three-over-par second round of 75.
Romain Langasque of France followed his record-equalling 61 at St Andrews on Thursday with a round of 80.
With officials concerned by the possibility of worsening weather, Friday’s play on all three courses featured a shotgun start, with competitors teeing off from various holes rather than the first at the venue they were playing that day.
Mansell, who started his round on the 6th hole at St Andrews, surged to the top of the leaderboard with birdies at the 7th, 9th, 10th and 12th.
But the rapidly deteriorating conditions meant protecting, rather than improving, a score became the priority.
Mansell bogeyed the 16th but made several par saves before carding a birdie on the 5th hole, his last, to head into the weekend two strokes clear of the field.
Eddie Pepperell enhanced a good day for English golf in Scotland with a hole-in-one on the 8th at Kingsbarns.
“It was just a good shot,” he said. “It was a 6-iron, just trying to hold it up against a little bit of a right-to-left wind and it pitched online and just rolled down there, fed in.”
© Agence France-Presse