World No. 1 Luke Donald put himself back into winning contention after shooting a flawless second-round 68 on Friday to be just three shots back in the defense of his Scottish Open title.
Donald birdied his second and third holes and then, after 13 straight pars, birdied his closing two holes to move to nine-under, trailing Italy’s Francesco Molinari (70) and Sweden’s Alex Noren (66), who head the event on 12-under.
Donald will be seeking to win his second European Tour event in three tournaments and also become the first player to retain the Scottish Open.
“I came up here to Scotland to successfully defend and that is what I’m here for,” he said.
Noren, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Thursday, is on target to secure one of the two remaining spots into next week’s British Open.
The leading player within the top-five finishes — and not already exempt — in both the Scottish Open and the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic this week, will earn entry into golf’s oldest Major.
However, Noren’s goal of contesting a fourth British Open is under threat by Argentina’a Ricardo Gonzalez and Italian teenager Matteo Manassero, who both shot 64s to be tied in third place at 11-under.
They are also hoping to get into the British Open.
India’s S.S.P. Chowrasia (67), who is in fourth place on 10-under par, is also seeking to qualify.
Sharing sixth place on nine under par with Donald is 2009 Scottish Open winner, Martin Kaymer of Germany.
Kaymer birdied five of his opening seven holes in an eventual round of 68.
Phil Mickelson posted the equal lowest round of the day, an eight-under-par 64, to move to seven-under and also return to form after missing the cut in both the US Open and last week’s Greenbrier Classic.
The triple Major winning pair of Padraig Harrington (69) and Ernie Els (70) finished a respective six-under and four-under.
However, missing the cut was Scotland’s Ryder Cup hopeful Paul Lawrie, along with fellow Scots Colin Montgomerie and Sandy Lyle.
John Deere Classic
The US’ Troy Matteson followed a blistering opening round with a less spectacular, but solid second day, carding a three-under 68 on Friday to hold a one-shot lead at the midway point of the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois.
Matteson, who posted a flawless 10-under 61 to open the tournament, turned in another polished effort on the TPC Deere Run layout, mixing four birdies with his only bogey through two rounds for a two-day total of 13-under 129.
Lurking one shot back are compatriots Brian Harman (65) and Jeff Maggert.
Two behind the leader are Briton Gary Christian (66) and Americans J.J. Henry (64), Robert Garrigus (66) and Ricky Barnes (67).