Alex Noren of Sweden rolled in five birdies in his last eight holes to shoot a six-under-par 66 in calmer conditions and take a one-stroke lead after the second round of the Scottish Open on Friday.
On a day of lower scoring around the Castle Stuart Golf Links, Danny Lee of New Zealand (66) and Eddie Pepperell of England (67) were a shot behind Noren, who had an eight-under-par 136.
Lee is only playing the Scottish Open after the PGA Tour canceled this week’s Greenbrier Classic because of flooding in West Virginia. Lee is defending champion at the Greenbrier and is donating money for every birdie (US$500) and eagle (US$1,000) he makes to flood-relief efforts.
Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson, two of the top names in the field, made the cut after shooting rounds of 69, but were nine shots off the lead. Matteo Manassero and Branden Grace (both 67) were in a four-way tie for fourth on six-under overall.
Winds were lighter after a blustery first round in northern Scotland and Noren found his form with the putter from No. 2 — his 11th hole, after starting on the back nine. He birdied Nos. 2 and 3, then Nos. 6, 7 and 8. His tee shot at the par-three 8th landed about 0.6m from the pin.
Noren did not drop a shot and has just one bogey in two rounds.
“I just kind of worked on my swing, and you’re messing around and all of a sudden I got a little bit better strike,” said Noren, who has already qualified for the British Open at Royal Troon in Western Scotland.
“I played steady on the front nine, and then you know, my last nine holes, I really got it going,” he said.
Lee, who also started at No. 10, had six birdies in a bogey-free round — four of them coming between Nos. 1 and 6.
“I love to play great every week, but making birdies and eagles are very important to me this week,” said Lee, who had five birdies in the first round. “It is very unfortunate that happened at West Virginia. I won the Greenbrier Classic last year there and was so looking forward to go back there and interact with a lot of fans, and people were just so nice to me last year. I know it’s not that much to help everybody, but I’m trying to make as much birdies as possible to add a little bit of help.”
Mickelson made the cut, which was at two-over, after recovering from two bogeys on his first four holes that put him on six-over for the tournament. On the par-five 16th — his seventh hole — the five-time major champion ran a two-iron and made eagle. He birdied three of his last eight holes.
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