ST ANDREWS, United Kingdom: England’s Tommy Fleetwood set a new Carnoustie course record to move into a share of the halfway lead at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland on Friday (Saturday in Manila).
Race to Dubai leader Fleetwood, 26, produced a bogey-free nine-under par 63 to lower the previous best by one shot on the course that will play host to next year’s Open Championship.
The effort, in bright but very cold conditions, saw the new father join compatriot and defending champion Tyrrell Hatton in the lead at 11-under par.
Hatton also played his second round at Carnoustie and fired a 65.
“I wasn’t aware it was a course record until I holed that birdie at the last and someone mentioned it to me,” Fleetwood said.
“So, it’s all in a day’s work.
“It is some achievement and it will be nice to do the same when The Open comes around but anytime you have a course record, and especially when it is on Tour and on golf courses like this, it’s brilliant to have and I am very proud at the moment.”
Fleetwood’s 63 bettered the 64s carded by 10 other golfers, including Sweden’s Alex Noren last year.
Fleetwood has played just one event in the past seven weeks after taking time off to be with his fiancee ahead of the birth of their first child early last week.
Hatton is seeking to become the first player in the 16-year history of the event to successfully defend the title.
The 25-year-old holed three birdies in succession from the sixth hole and then birdied four of his closing six holes.
“I am happy with today’s round though I got lucky a couple of times, but obviously you need that,” he said.
“The putter come alive for me, on I think it was the last sort of 13 holes, so it was a really good day and very happy.”
McIlroy in danger of missing third round cut
Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy birdied his final hole at Carnoustie in a round of 71 to get back to level par but was still three shots shy of Saturday’s expected third round cut-off mark of three-under par.
McIlroy spoilt his round, and in what is his last event of the year, in taking a sixth hole triple-bogey ‘7’ after also posting a double-bogey early in Thursday’s score at St. Andrews.
The world number six looks set to finish the season without a win for the first time since 2008, having not claimed a title since the 2016 Tour Championship.
Popular Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts is in third place after a second straight five-under par 67 for a 10-under par tally.
Colsaerts’ round at St Andrews mirrored his first-round showing at Kingsbarns Links.
“It felt good out there today but we got a little lucky with the wind as it changed direction at one stage over my back nine, so it would have been a little harder had the wind not changed,” he said.
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat continued his resurgence in form by posting a six-under par 66 for a share of sixth place, only three off the lead at eight-under.
Kiradech, who capped his round with five birdies in a mid-round six-hole stretch at St Andrews, is not only seeking a fourth Tour title but victory would see him become the tournament’s first Asian winner.
The 28-year-old is no stranger to success in Scotland, having won the inaugural Paul Lawrie Match-Play Championship at Murcar Links in 2015.
“I have spent a couple years on the European Tour and that experience has helped bring me up to this position at the moment,” he said.
“If you look back at my first year on Tour, it’s really difficult to play with the wind in links golf and (the) cold.” AFP
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Alfred Dunhill Links Championship scores
Leading scores from the second round of the European Tour’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews Old Course, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns (all par 72, GBR/IRL unless stated):
133 – Tommy Fleetwood 70-63, Tyrrell Hatton 68-65
134 – Nicolas Colsaerts (BEL) 67-67
135 – Marcel Siem (GER) 69-66, Paul Dunne 67-68
136 – Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 70-66, David Drysdale 69-67, Joakim Lagergren (SWE) 69-67, Bernd Ritthammer (GER) 70-66, Matt Wallace 69-67
137 – Ben Evans 69-68, Gregory Bourdy (FRA) 70-67
138- Brandon Stone (RSA) 71-67, Anthony Michael (RSA) 73-65, Romain Wattel (FRA) 70-68, Richard Bland 73-65, Niclas Fasth (SWE) 73-65
139 – J.B. Holmes (USA) 73-66, Branden Grace (RSA) 70-69
140 – Padraig Harrington 72-68, Graeme McDowell 69-71
142 – Martin Kaymer (GER) 71-71
144 – Rory McIlroy 73-71, Ernie Els (RSA) 74-70, Lee Westwood 71-73