Tommy Fleetwood broke the course record at Carnoustie to claim a share of the lead with Tyrrell Hatton, after the second round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
Fleetwood carded nine birdies in a flawless 63 on a calm, although cold day at next year’s Open venue, lifting him to 11 under for the tournament alongside Hatton, who holed his seventh birdie putt of a similarly faultless 65 from 30 feet at the final hole.
Rory McIlroy faces a battle to make the cut after being put in the shade by playing-partner Fleetwood, although the world No 6 did manage to drag himself back to level par with three birdies on the back nine, while last week’s British Masters champion Paul Dunne is just two shots off the lead heading to Kingsbarns on Saturday.
Defending champion Hatton continued his encouraging late-season form at Carnoustie as he made three straight birdies from the sixth before picking up shots at four of the final six holes, including a sublime chip-in for a two at the 16th and his lengthy putt on the final green.
The young Englishman looked likely to have the 36-hole lead to himself until Fleetwood found a rich vein of form after turning in 33, reeling off five consecutive birdies from the 11th and converting his record-breaking birdie putt from 10 feet at the last.
Fleetwood, who pulled out of last week’s British Masters to be present at the birth of his first child, said: “Any time you have a course record, especially on a golf course like this, it’s brilliant to have so I’m very proud at the moment. You don’t really think too much about it whilst you’re playing; and to hole that one on the last … all in all, a good day’s work.
“I think I hit it in some places that you probably can’t hit it when the Open comes around, but I played well and putted well. I had that really hot streak from 11 where I had good chances, made the most of the par-fives and holed a couple of putts, and there you go.”
Former Ryder Cup star Nicholas Colsaerts is alone in third place on 10 under after the big-hitting Belgian fired a five-under 67 at St Andrews, despite a double-bogey six at the first – his 10th – while Marcel Siem kept a bogey off his card in a 66 at the Old Course which briefly earned him the clubhouse lead on nine under.
Siem is level with the in-form Dunne, who shared the lead with four birdies after the turn until he made his second mistake of the day at 16 and parred in, keeping him one ahead of a group of five players on eight under including Matt Wallace, who carded four birdies in a row only to bogey his final hole at Carnoustie.
Former world No 1 Luke Donald surged into contention when he birdied the first five holes of the back nine at Carnoustie, although he slipped seven shots off the pace when he bogeyed 17 and ran up a costly six at the last.
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The projected cut is expected to be a minimum of three under after 54 holes, meaning McIlroy will need a round in the 60s to avoid a day off on Sunday in his final competitive event of 2017.
McIlroy atoned for an early mistake at the third with a birdie at four, but he got into big trouble at the sixth and ran up a double-bogey seven which saw him slip back to three over for the tournament.
He steadied himself with a run of pars before starting his recovery with a birdie at the 10th and, after another gain at the long 14th, McIlroy enjoyed a slice of luck at the last when his blocked drive avoided the burn and the bunkers and found a good lie, from where he knocked his second to six feet and rolled in the putt to salvage a 71.